OXFORD – It took a moment for Jeremy Liggins to warm up. Once he did, though, he was nearly unstoppable.
Liggins, Lafayette’s quarterback, missed the last two games of the regular season, but quickly returned to his usual form by tossing three touchdown passes in a busy second quarter as Lafayette defeated North Pontotoc 49-7 in the opening round of MHSAA Class 4A playoffs on Friday.
Lafayette, the Daily Journal’s top-ranked large school and the reigning North Half champ, advance to face Louisville, a 32-8 winner over Amanda Elzy.
Liggins, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound junior, completed scoring passes to Anfernee Gooch (63), Brandon Mack (22), and Ontario Phillips (26) to highlight the second quarter.
The four-touchdown frame came after a scoreless first period. Liggins started the scoring on a pitch to Gooch that turned into a 21-yard scoring run on the second play of the quarter.
“It felt good to be back,” Liggins said. “I missed two games back-to-back with this ankle injury, but this is what we were trying to get it healed up for. We knew this was going to be a big night, because it’s playoff time and you either win or go home.amp”
It was a big night in more ways than one.
It was the 14th consecutive win at home for Lafayette (12-0), and the seventh straight game where it has held opponents to seven points or less.
“It was the first time in a while that we’ve been able to run our offense like we need to run it, because we’ve had a couple of injuries here and there,” said Lafayette coach Anthony Hart. “I didn’t think we’d ever get going, then once we did, I thought our offense clicked.”
Liggins completed each of his four first-half pass attempts and finished with 114 yards. He also rushed for 78 yards and a TD on six carries.
Demarkus Dennis led all rushers with 146 yards on 22 carries and two TDs – both in the second half. His 14-yard run with 9:20 showing in the fourth quarter finished the scoring for the Commodores and gave them a 49-0 cushion. Tyler Jackson was 7 of 7 in extra-point kicks.
North Pontotoc (6-5), making its first postseason appearance since last year’s promotion to Class 4A, was held to its lowest point total of the year.
“I thought we played them hard,” said first-year North Pontotoc coach Brian Sutton. “They just kind of wore us down there later on and kind of put it on us.”
Brandon Bailey completed a 35-yard scoring pass to Marcus Green with 19 seconds remaining for the only points by the Vikings.
Mitchell Cunningham led North Pontotoc with 100 yards rushing on 18 attempts. Bailey, a senior, completed 16 of 31 passes for 197 yards.