In a battle between two of the best teams in the 5A DI ranks, No. 2 Lufkin made light work of No. 4 College Station, routing the defending 5A DII state champions, 35-3.
The win lifts the Panthers to 5-1 (3-0 in district) and ties them with Magnolia West for first place in District 8-5A Division I. Though tied for first, Lufkin is certainly the team to beat and has looked among the best in the state in the 5A DI ranks.
“I was pleased with how we played tonight, we played at a fast pace and did what we were supposed to do,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “We had good things in all three phases of the game which gave us this win, I’m really happy about our performance.”
Lufkin quarterback Kewone Thomas has been phenomenal this season and was able to shred the Cougar defense with both his accurate passing and mobility. The signal-caller accounted for two passing touchdowns and a running touchdown in the win. Quick said that Thomas' impact goes beyond the field as he’s one of the team’s leaders.
“Kewone’s our guy, he’s the one in charge and he’s leading our team,” Quick said. “He does whatever’s asked of him and he’s a leader out on that field.”
The Lufkin defense — which struggled last week against Magnolia, allowing 34 points — was stout, and Cougar quarterback Brandon Williams wasn’t able to get anything going. Leading the defensive effort was lineman Ja’Vasia Brunson, who had a 41-yard pick six for the Panthers’ second touchdown of the night. Brunson has received interest from many FBS programs and showed why on Friday night — shutting down the Cougar rush attack. Brunson highlights a 4-3 defensive front in which all three defensive linemen have Division I offers.
“I’m really pleased with the performance of our whole defense, I thought that they played really well and kept a good offense out of our end zone. They also played at a really good pace, which was great to see,” Quick said.
Lufkin will now be tasked with bringing the same intensity next week as the Panthers take on Waller (1-5). Quick isn’t worried that his team will look past the Bulldogs as their focus throughout the season has been on one game at a time.
“This win is a great one but it’s just one game. We’re still right in the middle of the season, it’s just one game nothing has changed,” Quick said. “This is just one step to get to where we want to get to.”
College Station (5-1) suffered its first loss of the season and quite simply wasn’t able to move the chains against the Panthers’ daunting defense. The Cougars had three turnovers and some major defensive lapses in the first half which proved costly. The most glaring defensive mistake was when College Station had the Panthers pinned in their own end zone on 3rd-and-8 and gave up a 95-yard touchdown pass on a blown coverage.
“Early on we gave up a lot of big plays, we didn’t execute tonight,” College Station head coach Steve Huff said. “They’re a really good football team and I give them a lot of credit, but we didn’t put our best foot forward tonight.”
One positive to take from the game for the Cougars was their performance in the second half. The home team held Lufkin scoreless and made a short field goal to cap a 54-yard drive for their lone score of the game.
“We can take a little bit of pride in our second half performance. That’s a good football team so if you start feeling sorry for yourself they’ll put up another 35 on you,” Huff said. “I was proud of how hard we played in the second half.”
With the loss now behind them, the Cougars will turn their attention to next week’s game against Magnolia (4-2), who gave Lufkin trouble in week 6 and put up 70 points tonight against Willis.
“We don’t have time to whine and cry about it, we’ve got to look at the film tomorrow morning and get ready to keep going,” Huff said. “This district is going to be tough from top to bottom. Magnolia’s a very good football team but we’ll regroup and be ready.”