LUFKIN - Lufkin closed the non-district portion of its schedule with a 35-7 victory over Prepa Tec on Friday night on John Outlaw Memorial Field at Abe Martin Stadium.
The visitors from Monterrey, Mexico, made things interesting through the first half, holding the Panthers to just 93 total yards - one rushing - in the first 24 minutes. Lufkin went into halftime with a 14-7 advantage.
"Even with what they were doing, we were trying to run the football," Lufkin head coach Todd Quick said. "When they put seven in the box, you've got to throw the football, and we were trying to run the football and just being hard-headed. We figured out that we were just going to have to throw the football and make the catches. You can't be hard-headed, and you have to take what they give you."
The Panthers did just that in the second half as they had 271 yards after the break - 236 through the air.
Rodgers connected with Dhailon Phillips for a 37-yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 21-7 lead with 7:19 left in the third quarter. After a long Prepa Tec drive that was extended by a roughing the kicker penalty, Lufkin needed just two plays to find the end zone as Rodgers found Phillips for an 81-yard touchdown.
Phillips, who didn't play in the first half, caught two passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter.
On the last play of the third quarter, Za'Courtney Deason intercepted a pass for the Panthers inside their own 10-yard line. On the second play of the fourth quarter, Rodgers hit Malik Jackson for an 85-yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 35-14 advantage.
"We came out and started a little slow," Lufkin quarterback Kordell Rodgers said. "We knew that just wasn't us. We had to come out after halftime and put some points on the board and help our defense out."
Rodgers finished 15 of 23 for 215 yards with four touchdowns.
A week after giving up 812 yards and 69 points in a loss to Bossier City Parkway, Lufkin held Prepa Tec to 208 yards and 7 points on Friday.
"I was real proud of them," Quick said. "We were in the right spot, and the kids were trying to get to the ball. That's what you've got to do."
This was Prepa Tec's second trip to Texas this season. They dropped a 26-24 loss to Uvalde earlier in the season. These games serves as a preseason for the Borregos, who play their season from January to March, according to head coach Gustavo Javier Adame Guajardo.
"Lufkin High School is a very good team, and we are ready to play," Adame Guajardo said before the game. "This is very exciting for my players. We like to come to the USA to play games, because we learn from every game and get better."
The Lufkin players enjoyed their experience of playing a team from a different country.
"It was real special," Deason said. "They're a great team, so it was real great getting to compete against them."
"We were very pumped for this game," Rodgers said. "We felt honored that they came here to play us. They were real cool guys, and we just had a real nice time playing them."
Lufkin got on the board early with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to Beau Atkinson.
With 4:08 left in the second quarter, Prepa Tec scored with a 2-yard touchdown by Carlos Humberto Avila Martinez.
The Panthers responded with a 1-yard touchdown run by Kahlil Brown with 1:53 remaining in the first half to grab a 14-7 lead.
Lufkin, which was averaging 180.7 rushing yards per game, was held to 36 yards on the ground. Brown did score his ninth touchdown of the season, though.
Daniel Ancira Garcia led the Borregos with 77 yards on 13 carries.
In the fourth quarter, Lufkin's Michael Hightower forced a fumble, and it was recovered by Natavian Gardner. Also in the quarter, Prepa Tec muffed a punt that was recovered by Jackson Treadwell.
Lufkin (3-1) will host The Woodlands College Park next Friday for the District 12-6A opener and homecoming.