With virtually nothing to play for, the Lufkin Panthers took care of business anyway. Jordan Moore threw for 280 yards and three touchdowns, and the Panthers got big nights from Kelton Wright and Caleb Berry on their way to a 42-14 win over the Waller Bulldogs on John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium Friday night.
With the win, the Panthers secured their second straight unbeaten district mark while winning their ninth straight game.
Now it’s time for the real fun to begin.
“We did what we were supposed to do,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. “We were a little sloppy and not quite as fast as I wanted to be. We’ll get back to work because this is where it really counts.”
Lufkin will now open the playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday night against Texas High, the fourth-seeded team from District 7-5A DI. That game will be played in Lufkin thanks to the Panthers winning district.
On Friday night, the Panthers made sure they would keep their momentum headed into that contest.
After Waller struck for a score on the first offensive snap, the Panthers systematically dominated the rest of the game by reeling off 42 straight points against a Waller team that finished the season winless.
With Ja’Lynn Polk out, Wright and the Lufkin receivers stepped up in a big way. Wright led the way with five catches for 133 yards and a touchdown. David Hughes had three receptions for 71 yards, and Samuel Flack made his first touchdown reception of the season.
Caleb Berry ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
For the night, Lufkin had 422 yards of total offense.
“We’ve got guys that can make plays, and we just have to find the right combinations,” Quick said. “We were able to do that tonight. We’ll have to be even better in the playoffs.”
Meanwhile, Lufkin’s defense gave up a 71-yard touchdown pass on the opening play before dominating the rest of the way.
Waller was held to 252 yards, with 86 of those coming on the last drive of the game after the starters were watching from the sideline.
Mason Stewart had five receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown to go along with three carries for 27 yards.
“One play doesn’t make a game,” Quick said. “I thought after the second series, our guys figured out what they were doing and made the adjustments.”
Just moments after Lufkin’s Senior Night activities wrapped up, Waller delivered a surprising shot to the district champs as Stewart found himself wide open behind the Lufkin defense for a 71-yard touchdown pass from Caleb Godfrey for an early 7-0 advantage.
The Panthers countered by methodically working their way down the field. Caleb Berry put the finishing touches on a 16-play, 71-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown up the middle that tied the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
The defenses forced a pair of punts before Lufkin’s offense used the big play to get its first lead.
Moore put the Pack on top as he threw a perfect 40-yard touchdown strike to A.J. Montgomery for a 14-7 lead with 6:23 left in the second quarter.
The Panthers faced a fourth and 13 on the final drive of the first half before David Hughes hauled in a 29-yard pass over the middle.
Two plays later, Moore hit a wide-open Samuel Flack in the back of the end zone for a 4-yard score, his first touchdown of the season, that made it 21-7.
In the first half, Moore found six different receivers in throwing for 147 yards and two touchdowns. Caleb Berry did the work on the ground with 66 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Lufkin started the second half by grinding out a 12-play, 74-yard drive capped by a Berry 5-yard touchdown run that made it 28-7 with 6:54 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers used just one play to get back on the board on their next possession as Wright snagged a nice catch over a Waller defender then outsprinted him to the end zone for a 77-yard score that upped that margin to 35-7.
That lead ballooned to 42-7 on the legs of Terrance Fields, who scored on a 12-yard run with 11:18 left in the game.
Waller ended a run of 42 straight points with a 16-play, 86-yard drive that culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run, cutting the margin to 42-14 with 3:22 left.
Lufkin improved to 9-1 on the season while finishing district 7-0.