LUFKIN — When the chips were on the table, how would they respond?
That was the main question Longview head coach John King had for his team as the Lobos officially opened its state title defense in hostile territory.
Longview, especially on defense, answered that question as the Lobos grabbed a 24-21 win over Lufkin to open the season on Friday night at Abe Martin Stadium.
With its win, Longview extends its win streak to four games over the Panthers as well as grabbing its 17th-straight win following the perfect run to the 2018 Class 6A, Division II state championship.
In a bitter rivalry that comes down to a few plays, it was the Lobo defense that kept Lufkin in check as the offense sputtered at times.
“This game usually comes down to a few plays and our defense made a ton of them tonight,” King said. “I thought they were exceptional all night long.
“When it mattered most, they stood the tallest. I’m proud of their effort and the way they led the team. That’s what I wanted to see — what were we going to do when the heat was on.”
After reclaiming the lead with 6:36 left to play, the Lobo defense came away with back-to-back stops to seal the victory for Longview, which held Lufkin to 72 rushing yards on 25 carries.
Lufkin used trickery on the first play of the 2019 season, a play that resulted in an 89-yard touchdown pass. From there, the Lobo defense held Lufkin to three first downs the rest of the way in the first half.
Offensively, the Lobos answered Lufkin’s double pass quickly but came up with empty possessions the rest of the opening half for a 10-7 lead at the break.
Longview finished with 455 yards of total offense, 169 on the ground on 27 carries and 286 yards passing from quarterback Haynes King, who finished 20-of-36 with two interceptions while targeting seven different receivers.
Kyas Moore hauled in seven catches for 103 yards and Kaden Kearbey at five catches for 76 yards.
On the ground, junior running back Kaden Meredith finished with 75 yards, including a nine-yard touchdown. Fellow junior Markevion Haynes broke through for a 46-yard score and Haynes King punched in a six-yard touchdown.
Antonio Onofre connected on a 37-yard field goal that put the Lobos ahead, 10-7 in the first half.
Defensively, Tyshawn Taylor had a sack on a late Lufkin drive, which led to a turnover on downs. Sawyer Goram-Welch and Andrew Beltran made play after play up front for the Lobos ahead of linebacker Cedric Smith.
Longview extended its lead to 17-7 on the opening drive of the third quarter, a 99-yard march. Lufkin then pulled to within three, 17-14, on a drive that included a Longview pass interference on third down and an interception that was erased by an offsides call.
The Lobos punted for the first time late in the third quarter, setting up Lufkin’s best drive of the night, a 93-yard go-ahead march with 10:22 to play.
Longview’s offense then answered again with a 8-play, 64-yard drive to reclaim the lead, 24-21.
The Lobo defense then stood up again, overcoming a muffed punt and a pass interference call on fourth down with a turnover on towns.
With 2:22 left, King was picked off for the second time, setting up Lufkin at its own 28. After a bad snap with pressure coming, the Lobo defense held on fourth-and-three to head to victory formation at Abe Martin Stadium.
“After the offseason, there were a lot of unknowns, including how we respond in this environment,” King said. “You think you have a chance to be a good football team but you really don’t know.
“After tonight, I think we have a chance to be a pretty good football team if we keep taking steps forward. It wasn’t pretty at times but we came down here and played good football against a good football team.”
Longview hosts Marshall next while Lufkin visits Nacogdoches.