BLOG — Through two and half quarters against Senatobia, Lafayette couldn’t stay out of its way, committing 11 penalties. In the final quarter and half, the Commodores only had one.
Given that stat, it’s no surprise Lafayette’s fortunes changed in the second half.
The Commodores (5-5 overall, 2-2 in Region 2-4A) racked up 224 first-half yards, yet trailed the Warriors 7-6 at the half. But Lafayette put together consecutive error-free drives in the fourth quarter and used some big plays from its defense to pull away for a 30-7 victory Friday night in Senatobia to keep its playoff hopes alive for another week.
Lafayette’s 2-2 region record mirrors that of Byhalia, which lost to Ripley 51-7. The two teams are tied for the region’s third and final playoff spot, which means their meeting next week will be a play-in game for the postseason.
But it took the Commodores a while to show they were even worthy of playoff talk against Senatobia (1-7), which entered Friday’s game in the cellar of the region standings and is still winless in the region at 0-4.
Lafayette struck quickly when QB Devon Thomas found WR Landon Busby for a 25-yard touchdown pass on the fifth play from scrimmage to put the Commodores up 6-0 after a botch point-after attempt, but the offense stalled the rest of the half as Lafayette was flagged nine times in the first 24 minutes. Even when it looked like the special teams were going to provide some assistance when Quin Jones scooped up his own blocked field goal and outraced everybody to the other end of the field, the score was negated by a block in the back.
The Commodores lost even more momentum — and the lead — when Senatobia RB Courtland Barnes busted an 80-yard touchdown run with 37 seconds left until halftime to put the Warriors in front 7-6.
“We moved down the ball down there and started getting penalites and got ourself out of (scoring) position,” Lafayette coach Eric Robertson said. “The message at halftime was that it wasn’t an Xs and Os things, it was a matter of want-to.”
Two more penalties came on Lafayette’s first possession of the second half, though the Commodores did manage a 27-yard field goal from Ryan Holland to reclaim the lead at 9-7. The Commodores then settled down, mounting back-to-back clean drives to extended their lead to 23-7 early in the fourth quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run from D.K. Buford and 3-yard scoring plunge up the middle from Tyrell Price, respectively.
Lafayette put the game out of reach when Rashaun Rockette recovered Barnes’ fumble on a fake punt and ran it back 43 yards for another touchdown with 7:18 left in the game.
“I thought, initially, we came out and we were going to be ready to play football, and we just kind of went flat, gave them life and then we’re in for a dogfight,” Robertson said. “Second half, I was proud of they way they came out and played. D.K. gutting that thing in. That was big for us. And then the defense made some plays, and it kind of went our way in the second half.”
For more on Friday night’s game, see Monday’s print edition of the EAGLE. (October 26, 2013)