OXFORD – The Crosstown Classic lived up to its name Friday night, as Lafayette held on to win at rival Oxford 21-14 with a defensive play at the end.
Jeremy Liggins had a 73-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, and a Demarkus Dennis 12-yard run helped the Commodores complete a fourth-quarter comeback.
Lafayette improved to 3-0, dealing Oxford (2-1) its first loss.
The win wasn’t secure until a minute remained when Lafayette defensive end Keeyon Tyson hit Oxford quarterback Guy Billups, stripping the ball at the Lafayette 13-yard line.
The Commodores recovered and ran out the clock.
Billups had dropped back to pass, then stepped up in the pocket and never saw Tyson coming from his blind side.
“The guy came around the curve from his back and just got him,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said.
“They were driving, and we were able to make a play to win,” Lafayette coach Anthony Hart said. “It was a tough ballgame, and we have a lot of respect for their team. They have a great team.”
Hill said losing to the nearby rival is always tough, but he saw some good things from his players.
“I thought we played our best game. If you look at the other two games we improved a good bit, but we dropped some balls that would have been good catches and missed a couple of touchdowns there. We had a 14-13 lead going into the fourth quarter and just couldn’t hang on to it.”
The Chargers hurt themselves with some untimely penalties as well, one a pre-snap call that pushed them back 5 yards and forced them to punt. That killed a fourth-quarter drive.
Hart also felt like his team missed some opportunities, kicking short field goals instead of getting the big points and once turning the ball over on downs near the 10-yard line.
“We only punted one time in the ballgame,” Hart said. “They have a good defense, but when you get in the red zone you’ve got to get points. We have to capitalize on those opportunities, and we didn’t.”
Liggins’ run put Lafayette out in front early, and the Commodores added a 22-yard field goal by Tyler Jackson in the second quarter.
Down 10-0, Oxford scored the game’s next 14 points.
Jeoffrey Gordon ran in from 10 yards out, and Billups passed 13 yards to Deshaun McNeal. Ian Rone added both extra points, but that was all the scoring for the Chargers.
Meanwhile, Lafayette chipped away.
Jackson was good from 27 yards out, cutting the lead to a single point as the final 12 minutes began.
It stayed that way until Dennis capped the Commodores’ winning drive with a little more than 2 minutes on the clock.
Oxford is at Senatobia next week, while Lafayette is at home against Itawamba AHS.
NEMS Daily Journal