It appeared to be a mismatch on paper – unbeaten Spring Westfield taking on two-loss Lufkin in a Class 6A Division II Region II semifinal at Texan Drive Stadium.
Perhaps that memo got lost in the Lufkin mail.
The 11-2 Panthers controlled this game, save for a few frantic moments at the end, and knocked off Westfield 14-11 to advance to the regional finals against Longview.
Panthers’ senior running back Isaiah Phillips found creases all game long through and around the Westfield defense and the vaunted d-line unit of Keondre Coburn, Joshua Carr, Chris Robinson, Micah Stith and Kevre Harrison.
Phillips’ two-yard TD run with three minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the third quarter gave Lufkin a seemingly insurmountable 14-3 advantage. Phillips finished with 169 bruising yards on 33 carries.
Several key Lufkin miscues late in the game gave Westfield new life and threatened to derail the Panthers’ post-game celebration.
A Dorien Hawkins interception and 46-yard return to the Lufkin 19-yard line set up an Edwin Allen one-yard TD run. Terrance Gipson’s two-point conversion pass to Noah Massey with 4:01 left in the fourth quarter brought the Mustangs within three points (14-11).
In the game’s waning moments, Lufkin punter Max Quick corralled a high snap from center and booted a 25-yard punt on the run to the Westfield 19 to avoid disaster.
Westfield (11-1) could only muster 10 yards before time expired in the game and on the Mustangs’ season.