MONTGOMERY - Lufkin closed the regular season with a 40-21 win over Montgomery Friday night at Bear Stadium.
The win gives the Panthers (7-3, 4-2) a three-game winning streak heading into the playoffs, where they’ll open against John Tyler - a 49-28 winner over rival Tyler Lee on Friday.
The Panthers and Lions are scheduled to meet in a Class 6A bi-district game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tyler’s Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
“Our goal this week was to win the football game, to get better and to keep us on a roll to get where we are playing really good football going into the playoffs,” Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said.
Montgomery opened the game with an onside kick, and it was recovered by Cody Gould for the Bears. Lufkin quickly gained possession of the football when Montgomery’s Caleb Campbell fumbled, and Lufkin’s Isaiah Phillips recovered on the Lufkin 14-yard line.
On fourth down, Kordell Rodgers connected on a 32-yard pass to Malik Jackson, who found his way into the end zone. However, it was ruled that Rodgers went across the line of scrimmage, and it was called a turnover on downs.
Later in the quarter, Lufkin got on the board with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Javante Ellington. A bobbled snap on the extra point try made it 6-0 in favor of the Panthers.
On Montgomery’s next drive, the Bears fumbled again, and it was recovered by the Panthers with 15 seconds left in the opening quarter. The Panthers scored again early in the second quarter on a 3-yard run by Kahlil Brown.
Brown, who’s missed the past couple of games with an injury, returned to rush for 146 yards and three touchdowns on 24 carries.
“He’s back,” Quick said. “He got better as the game went on.”
“I’m glad to be back,” Brown said. “I really want to thank my coaches for taking the time to help me get better and get ready to play. It really hurt me not playing, but I just did what I could to coach up the other two running backs. Without the line, we couldn’t do anything, so I really want to thank my offensive line, and I want to thank Coach (Jeff) Cook for teaching the O-line to do what they do.”
The Panthers rushed for 285 yards as a team, including 70 yards and two touchdowns by Rodgers, who also threw for 234 yards and a touchdown.
Montgomery scored with a 3-yard run by quarterback Jordan Hood to cut the score to 13-7, but Lufkin quickly answered with another 3-yard touchdown run by Kahlil Brown.
The Panthers recovered a third fumble in the first half, and Jeremiah Davis returned it into Montgomery territory. The Panthers led 20-7 at the break.
The Bears trimmed the margin on their first drive of the second half with a 6-yard pass from Hood to Alex Nunn. The Panthers answered with a 3-yard touchdown run by Rodgers and 7-yard scoring run from Brown to lead 34-14 going into the final quarter.
Rodgers scored from 1 yard out early in the fourth quarter to push the score to 40-14.
Montgomery tacked on an 8-yard touchdown run by Tauren Bradley.
Breylon Garcia also returned from injury for the Panthers and had five catches for 54 yards. Ellington and Jackson also made five receptions each.