By John Wilbert | NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – It wasn’t Lafayette High’s finest moment in the last three years, but it was a sign of what was to come.
The Commodores trailed St. Stanislaus 21-0 at halftime of the 2009 MHSAA Class 4A football state championship game.
“I remember walking in the dressing room at halftime,” said Commodores head coach Anthony Hart, “and Jeremy (Liggins) was slapping himself in the head with both hands. I was thinking, ‘Golly, that kid is ready to win; he wants to win.’”
While the ‘Dores lost 35-16 that day, no one else has beat them since.
Two years after his sophomore season, Liggins capped off his brilliant high school career with a 111-yard rushing and 102-yard passing performance to lead his team to a 39-29 Class 4A state title game victory over Laurel on Saturday afternoon at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The victory was Lafayette’s 32nd in a row and second consecutive in the state finals.
“What a great way to end it, huh?” Liggins said while heading into the locker room, following a brief autograph session in the stands and a quick conversation with Mississippi State offensive coordinator Les Koenning. “Thank God for the whole team. Without them, I couldn’t have done it.”
Dennis was a menice
Fellow classmate Demarkous Dennis also had a memorable final game. The senior tailback rushed 17 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns, including scoring runs of 83 and 80 yards.
“I was touched, like, two times,” Dennis said about breaking those pair of lengthy touchdown runs in the second half.
Liggins ripped off a lengthy run himself to lead to the Commodores’ first points. His 33-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage set the tone for an 80-yard, 11-play scoring drive.
Dennis finished that game-opening drive with a 13-yard run.
Liggins scored his lone touchdown on the ground on the ‘Dores’ second possession, a 9-yard carry with 2:58 remaining in the first.
Lafayette’s 6-foot-4, 270-pound QB delivered with his arm in the final two minutes of the half, connecting with D.K. Buford for a 48-yard score. Overall, Liggins was 4 of 7 passing for 102 yards and a touchdown, and was picked off once.
“The interception we threw after the half, that was my fault,” Hart said. “I shouldn’t have done that. I take full credit for that.
“That kind of got them back in the ballgame.”
The ‘Dores also recorded two safeties in the game when snaps sailed over the Laurel punter’s head and out of the end zone.
Despite leading 23-7 at the half and 32-7 in the third quarter, the Golden Tornadoes (13-2) were still able to make it somewhat of a game thanks to four touchdown passes (38, 9, 81 and 12 yards) from Dontreal Pruitt to Justin Mack.
“With them only rushing three, you’re not going to have very much (room) to throw it,” said Pruitt. “So, we just took what they gave us, and we had a couple of things that landed over top and we just took it.”
The Laurel quarterback, however was picked off three times – twice by Colby Terrell and once by Brandon Mack.
“We get a lot of press (publicity) with our offense with Jeremy and Demarkous, but our defensive coaches do a great job every Friday night,” Hart said.