• John Macon Gillespie

Coverage Recap: Lafayette 21 | Pontotoc 14

The word electric would not be good enough to describe the atmosphere at William L. Buford Stadium on a frigid Friday night. The Pontotoc faithful that traveled tremendously well and the home crowd from Lafayette witnessed an outstanding, hard fought 4A North Half Championship game. When it was all said and done, a sea of red and gold made it’s way on to the field and it was saying: “State Bound!”

The Lafayette Commodores held on to defeat the Pontotoc Warriors 21-14. The Commodores will play for a 4A state title for the first time since 2013. The Warriors gave Lafayette all they wanted, from the opening kickoff to Will Ard taking a knee.

The Warriors received the ball to start the game, but wouldn't get very far, punting the ball away. The Commodores began their opening possession from midfield. Jamarcus Quarles was gang tackled for three straight plays and the Commodores were faced with 4th and 2 from about Pontotoc’s 43 yard line. The punt was fake, the snap was snapped to the up-back and he was able to get a first down. The Commodores wouldn't be able to cash in the gamble and punted the ball away. Punting was a common theme in the first quarter thanks to both defenses. The score was zip zip at the end of one quarter. Within 30 seconds of the first quarter, Lafayette drew first blood in the contest. Jamie Shaw found an open hole and bursted through it for a 15 yard touchdown run. The score was 7-0 Lafayette. Pontotoc continued to be smothered and covered by Lafayette’s defense after the touchdown. The Warriors had to punt again to the Commodores. Lafayette QB Will Ard threw a pass right into the hands of Pontotoc’s Hayden Harris and Harris raced 41 yards the other way for a pick-six to get the Warriors on the board. The score was tied at 7 midway through the second quarter. A little bit later in the second quarter, Lafayette had a chance to get points before the half ended. Lafayette drove into the Warriors’ red zone, but would loose a big chunk of that yardage because of Cole Smith sack on Will Ard. Ard threw up an hail-nary in hopes that his receiver Tyler Williams would come down with it. The pass was broken up, and at the half, the score was tied a 7.

Both defenses played an outstanding first half. The Warriors were stopping Quarles over and over again in the run game and the Commodores made Pontotoc QB Jacob Carter a bit uncomfortable in that first half of action.

The Commodores got the ball to begin the third quarter, but would be forced to punt the ball away. Then Warrior RB Gabe Harmon made his presence felt, breaking big runs into Lafayette territory. Carter found Darryl Dilworth open in the middle of the field and Dilworth shifted his way to the end zone for a Pontotoc touchdown. The 25 yard touchdown pass gave Pontotoc their first lead of the evening, up 14-7 with 8:20 left in the third quarter. Lafayette would respond right back with key plays from Brandon Turnage that led to a three yard touchdown surge by Quarles. The touchdown knotted the game at 14 with 3:53 left in the third quarter. On Pontotoc’s next offensive possession, Harmon would again shine. Harmon broke loose for a 42 yard run and got tackled inside Lafayette’s five yard line. The Commodore D held firm, forcing Carter to use his leg to get points, kicking a 24 yard field goal. The kick was wide right and no good. The Commodores drove the length of the field to attempt to take the lead. Lafayette found themselves inside Pontotoc’s 10 yard line a little bit later, early in the fourth quarter. Ard threw to Quarles out in the flat on 3rd and goal and got stopped one yard short of the goal line. The Commodores decided to go for the touchdown on 4th and goal from the one. The Warriors stood firm and stuffed Quarles for no gain on 4th and goal. After a series of punts, Pontotoc had the ball with about six minutes to play in the ball game. Carter threw a pass while getting drilled by a Commodore defender that was picked off by Dillon Woods. Woods took the interception to the two yard line, setting his team up with 1st and goal. Shaw punched in another touchdown to retake the lead 21-14 with 5:56 left in the game. Pontotoc’s season was hanging in the balance. Pontotoc’s final drive started at their own 17 yard line. Harmon started the drive with a few runs to get them good yardage. Three times, the Warriors were faced with 3rd down and they converted all three as they made their way all the way to Lafayette’s red zone. The Warriors got enough yardage to get them 1st and goal under two minutes left in the game. The Commodores stood firm for three downs. Pontotoc’s season rested on one play with 50 seconds left, facing 4th and goal from the five yard line. Carter rolled out to his left, then reversed field and rolled to his right and got sacked by a Commodore defender while doing so.

The Lafayette Commodores will take on Poplarville for the MHSAA Class 4A State Championship at Davis Wade Stadium on the campus of Mississippi State University. Kickoff is set for Saturday, December 3rd at 3:00 p.m.

Players of the game:

Pontotoc - Jacob Carter

Lafayette - Will Ard

#JaredRedding #Lafayette #Pontotoc

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