OXFORD – Lafayette sophomore running back Tyrell Price touched the ball 32 times for just 72 yards on Friday night, but it helped the Commodores’ offense methodically control the clock in their third round matchup against the Noxubee County Tigers.
The defense did its part by forcing four turnovers, and Lafayette outlasted Noxubee 9-0 to advance to its third North championship game in the last four years.
“I really had to depend on my offensive line, and I ran the ball a little harder than I usually do,” said Price, who had the majority of Lafayette’s 111 yards on the ground.
Lafayette coach Eric Robertson said the name of the game was keeping the ball and keeping it out of the air. Quarterback Devin Thomas threw the ball only five times, completing three for 37 yards, including a key 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Stewert Hunter on 4th-and-3 with 6:15 to play to put the Commodores ahead by two scores.
“That was the game plan. We knew we just had to try and run the football and not put it up in the air against those guys,” said Robertson. “We just wanted to be patient and get first downs.
The Commodores totaled only 148 total yards, but they allowed just 142. They forced two first-half turnovers.
In the second half, Lafayette stopped Noxubee’s best scoring threat at the 5-yard line. Having forced Noxubee into a throwing situation, the Commodores picked off Tamorris Conner on back-to-back possessions, the last by Cam Pettis icing the game with two minutes remaining.
“Hats off to the defense,” said Robertson. “The offense did just enough to get some points on the board, and I’m just really proud of the total team effort.”
Lafayette got on the board in the first quarter on a 27-yard Holland Ryan field goal, set up by a bad Noxubee punt snap. Tigers coach Tyrone Shorter said such mistakes and missed chances cost his team.
“Turnovers, missed opportunities and we were terrible on special teams tonight,” said Shorter, now in his 15th season. “I thought we played well enough defensively to win, but we just blew opportunities.”
Eric Hunt led Noxubee with a game-high 102 yards on 18 carries.