STORY BY: BOB WRIGHT
COLLEGE STATION — The Lufkin Panthers’ super-fast running back Kendrick Mapp abruptly ended a four-overtime game on the first play of his team’s possession by bursting up the middle and crossing the goal untouched from 25 yards out Friday evening to hand the A&M Consolidated Tigers a 71-68 loss in the two clubs’ district opener. That was on the Panthers’ fourth possession with Consol having had its lone possession in the fourth overtime and having to settle for a field goal, Dillon Moore’s 30-yarder, whose kick had given Consol a 68-65 lead.
In front of a capacity crowd at Tigerland Stadium – both Consolidated and Lufkin fans packed each side – it was Homecoming for Consol, now with a 3-2 record. Lufkin is also 3-2, but more importantly for the East Texans, that includes a 1-0 start in district.
Coach David Raffield, who understands the character of his club, had to be happy with the way they kept coming back. However, an inability to adequately defend the Panther passing attack and the tremendous speed of the Panthers, turned out to be deciding factors in the District 14-5A opener.
After the “full” evening of one of the most entertaining games at Tigerland in several seasons, Coach Raffield is confident the Tigers “will bounce back.” To be sure, they’re a resilient bunch, and with the 0-1 start in district, the Tigers will claw back. Hopefully, that will come Thursday night against The Woodlands, in a road test. Kickoff is set for 7 o’clock.
Lufkin rolled up 741 total offensive yards, a couple of hundred ahead of the Tigers.
Each team had three turnovers, a fumble each and two interceptions off the arms of Consol’s Jaylan Cheshire and Lufkin’s Tyler Stubblefield.
The Tiger offensive line, which might have run out of steam on its final series, settling for the field goal, acquitted itself admirably for the most part in a game which started at 7:30 and didn’t end until 11:30.
The four overtime game might have set some sort of record for the Tigers, at least within the past few years.
Consolidated registered 32 first downs to 31 for the visitors. In the passing department, Cheshire hit 17 of 30 and suffered two picks.Lufkin hit 22 of 38 aerials, also with two interceptions. Stepoffs were pretty frequent as game officials kept a fairly tight rein on proceedings, assessing eight penalties for 70 yards against the Tigers, and nine stepoffs for 85 against the Panthers.
Consolidated opted to receive and promptly marched downfield for a score on its initial possession. The first drive was a thing of beauty for the Consolidated fans, covering 92 yards in nine plays, culminating with Xavier Jones’ seven-yard TD at the 8:26 mark. Both Jones and Brandon Jackson shared running back duties on that drive, as well as throughout the game, ripping off some lengthy runs to keep drives alive. Dillon Moore missed the extra-point kick, the only miss for the crackerjack kicker all evening.
Lufkin cut the margin to 6-3 on Luis Garcia’s 28-yard field goal with a minute and 35 seconds remaining in the first quarter on the Panthers’ third possession.
In the second period, Consol jumped ahead 13-3 on Jones’ second touchdown of the night, a six-yard burst a minute and 20 seconds deep into the quarter. That ended a 75-yard drive.
Neither team’s defense could fully stop the offense; Lufkin roared back to whittle the margin to 13-10 when Stubblefield drilled a scoring toss to Kyler Henson from the Consol 21 at the 8:20 mark of the second period, ending a six-play, 71-yard drive.
Back came Consolidated on a 17-yard toss from Cheshire to Derrick Dick with 5:18 to go in the half. The score came on a 77-yard drive that needed seven plays, with the Tigers ahead 20-10.
In the third period, Lufkin inched nearer at 20-17 on a pass from Stubblefield to Ke Ke Coutee, a sophomore wide receiver speedster, on a two-yard payoff toss. The 86-yard drive had nine plays.
Dillon Moore kicked a 38-yard field goal, lifting the Tigers to a 23-17 lead with 4:38 to go in the period.
Lufkin took its first lead of the night on a 55-yard pass-and-run from Stubblefield to wide receiver Jabryce Taylor. That deadlocked it, with Garcia’s kick breaking the tie at 24-23.
In the fourth period, Cheshire ran in a touchdown from the one after he had connected up with Daniel Hulse on an 82-yard pass-and-run. Cheshire’s two-point conversion to Kerry Thomas knotted the score 31-31. That score was set up by Kyle Chism’s seventh interception of the year.
Lufkin scored again on a Jamal Jeffery run to go ahead 38-31.
The Tigers tied it 38-38 on a 19-yard reception by Derrick Dick off the arm of Cheshire with 3:10 to go in the game. It ended a 76-yard drive in eight plays.
Back came Lufkin, on a 64-yard pass-and-run play from Stubblefield toTaylor with 2:06 remaining, and the Panthers led 45-38.
A&M Consolidated knotted the score on a five-yard pass fromCheshire to Josh Stewart with 30 seconds left in regulation.
Mapp’s two-yard run put Lufkin up 52-45 in the Panther’s initial overtime possession.
Cheshire tied it on a 16-yard scoring run to his left. Also in the overtime, Cheshire scored on an eight-yard run, Jones scored on a three-yard dash, and Moore kicked the 30-yard field goal.
Stubblefield passed for a score to Coutee, Jamal Jeffery scored on a six-yard run and Mapp had that deciding 25-yard run, in which he made a couple of minor cuts to stay untouched for the game winner.
Some of the defensive stalwarts for Consol were Chism, Coleman Dennis, Alec Lampo, Josh Hailey, Alec Byrd, Danny Ochoa, Jimmie Gilbert, Cory Harris and Randy Whited. The Tiger offensive line fought with might and mane, including Kyle Cavanaugh, Shane Rae, Luke Bush, Dan Havens and Stephen King.