Time and time again, College Station head coach Steve Huff thought his players had made a stop. But Lufkin would find a way out of the jam, and a lot of the time, down the field.
No. 6 College Station lost 35-3 to No. 4 Lufkin in District 8-5A Division I action, snapping an 18-game winning streak. The Cougars’ last loss before Friday was on Sept 15, 2017 against Houston St. Pius X.
“They’re extremely, extremely fast,” Huff said. “All those backs are physical, and they just got after us. I thought we were in position to make tackles a lot of times. It looked like we were there. I think the execution was there, and we just couldn’t make the play.”
Lufkin (5-1 overall and 3-0 in District 8-5A Division I) marched into College Station (5-1, 2-1) territory on its first drive and appeared to have stalled at the 35-yard line.
From there, Lufkin senior quarterback Kewone Thomas launched the ball on fourth and 11, and Titan Williams separated at about the 5-yard line and made the over-the-shoulder TD catch to put the Panthers on the board. About a minute later, Ja’Vasia Brunson’s 35-yard interception return for a touchdown gave Lufkin a 14-0 lead.
Safety Jerrin Thompson also recorded an interception in the second quarter.
The big plays didn’t stop there. Lufkin was backed up at its own 6-yard line on third-and-9, but Thomas found Ja’Lynn Polk wide open down the right sideline for a 94-yard touchdown. Lufkin also scored on a pair of 1-yard runs by Smallwood and Thomas. Smallwood’s run gave the Panthers a 21-0 lead seconds before the end of the first quarter and capped a six-play drive that started after a muffed punt at the College Station 31. The Panthers never threw a pass during that drive.
“When you can run the ball and you’re controlling the clock and everything else, you’re keeping their offense off the field, it’s a big part of being successful,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in the seventh grade or you’re playing on Sunday, if you can run the football, you can win games.”
Smallwood led the Panthers with 127 yards on 19 carries. Thomas completed 6 of 10 passes for 161 yards, and Williams caught three passes for 47 yards.
Meanwhile, the Lufkin defense shut down the Cougars’ run game, which managed just 35 yards. Quarterback Brandon Williams threw for 116 yards on 15-of-25 passing, and backup Blake Bayliss completed three passes for 51 yards. Zach Williams caught five passes for 75 yards, while Peyton Rusk had six catches for 56 yards.
“Even the kids that back up and spell them, there’s no letdown. That’s a very, very good defensive front,” Huff said. “So if you’re going to block those guys, you’ve got to be on your A-game, and I just don’t think we got anybody moving up front tonight.”
College Station’s defense didn’t allow any second-half points, with Zach Sacky, Jay Hannath and Michael Medlin leading a big defensive stop in the Cougar red zone on the first drive. Bayliss came in during the fourth quarter and completed a 51-yard pass to Zach Williams to set up Alan Guerrieri’s 30-yard field goal.
With four games of district play remaining, Huff and his squad will return to action at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Magnolia.
“I absolutely hate to lose, but if we can come off this game and learn something from it, learn the right way, it’s probably not earth-shattering,” he said. “It’s not a tell-all, end-all. We’ve still got a lot of ball to play.”