Coverage Breakdown: Pontotoc @ Lafayette
Players to Watch:
Jacob Carter- This quarterback has been nothing short of spectacular this season. Carter has gone 193-307 for 2,745 yards and has thrown 32 touchdowns on the year. Carter has been great at taking care of the football thus far this season, throwing only four interceptions, can he continue to do that against one of the best defenses in 4A?
Gabe Harmon- Harmon has been a running and scoring machine this season at running back. He has carried the ball 267 times for 1,856 yards and has scored 21 TDs on the ground. He looks to continue his success on the ground against a stout Lafayette defense.
Austin Morphis- The leading receiver for the Warriors. Morphis has caught 64 passes for 954 yards and has hauled in 10 touchdowns this season. He has 32 tackles on the defensive side of the ball at the safety position.
Brandon Hale- A fierce tackler and ballhawk, Hale is the leader of the Warrior defense at the linebacker position. Hale has 158 tackles on the season to lead the team. He also leads the team with four interceptions. Hale and this Warrior defense will have to stop a punishing ground game from Lafayette if they want to play in Starkville in December.
Hayden Harris- the linebacker ranks third on the team with 143 tackles. Harris has recovered five fumbles and had a fumble recovery taken for a touchdown earlier in the season.
Tyler Williams- The Mississippi State commit has been a force this season on both sides of the ball. On offense, Williams has caught 34 passes for 653 yards and a team high eight touchdowns. On defense, Williams has 36 tackles and two interceptions.
Jamarcus Quarles- Quarles is the latest edition of dominant running backs to come out of Lafayette. Quarles has been a workhorse this season, getting 272 carries for 2,021 yards and scoring 17 touchdowns on the ground. Quarles will need to have a good performance against a stingy Pontotoc defense if they want to win.
Brandon Turnage- A sophomore standout who was recently offered by Ole Miss. Turnage, as well as Williams, plays on both offense and defense. At receiver, he has caught 16 passes for 313 yards and has caught three touchdowns, on the other side of the ball, Turnage is tied on the team with six interceptions while getting 46 tackles.
Brandon Curry- the junior linebacker leads Lafayette with 138 tackles this season. Curry averages 11 tackles per game and has three sacks and three forced fumbles as well. He, as well as his defense, will have their hands full with a talented Warrior defense, they will have to prove once again the defense wins championships.
Xavier Martin- The veteran safety is one of the main leaders of this Commodore defense. He has 71 tackles on the year, six interceptions, and has six pass deflections. Martin is also a star on the school’s baseball team as an outfielder.
Keys to the Game:
Can Pontotoc continue to stay balanced offensively? Pontotoc is one of the state’s best offenses, a reason for their success on offense is because of their balance on a consistent basis. If a team focuses on stopping the pass, Gabe Harmon can give you headaches. If a team focuses on stopping Harmon, Jacob Carter and his receivers will torch their defense. Now, they face a Commodore defense that is very successful at stopping the pass and the run. Pontotoc will have to play their best game of the season offensively and be consistently good on the ground and through the air if they want to beat Lafayette and play for a state championship.
Can Pontotoc stop Quarles in the ground game? Jamarcus Quarles’ 2,021 rushing yards were not a fluke, he is as good as advertised. Lafayette has been a one dimensional, run offense for most of the season. If the Warriors can stop Quarles, Pontotoc will have the biggest part of Lafayette’s offense taken out of the game. Lafayette will be forced to pass against Pontotoc’s good defense and Pontotoc should like their chances if that should happen.
Can Lafayette establish a passing game if the run fails? As mentioned before, Lafayette relies a lot on their running attack to carry them to success. If Pontotoc stops it, the Commodores will have to rely on a passing game that has not been used very often this season. Lafayette’s quarterback Will Ard has the arm to be very successful at passing. Ard also has some good athletes on the perimeter that can make things happen too. Ard and company will have to step up their game with passing if the run is shut down.
Can Lafayette’s defense play four quarters with Pontotoc’s offense? Pontotoc’s offense is one of the most prolific offenses in the state this year. Lafayette’s defense is strong, but they haven't played an offense that is close to as good as Pontotoc’s. The Warriors have scored 562 points this season with their balanced offense. The highest scoring offense that the Commodores have faced this season was Charleston, a 3A school who had 501 points. The way that Pontotoc has the ability to score, score, and score again, Lafayette will need to have a complete game defensively in order to slow the Warriors down on offense.
It comes down to how Jacob Carter, the senior quarterback performs that will pretty much decide the outcome. If he can find his receivers in space and connect with them constantly and take care of the football, Pontotoc has a good shot at playing for a state championship for the first time since 1992. If Carter cannot get things going in this game, Pontotoc is in serious trouble.