Lafayette stumbles late against West Point in Region 1-5A opener
Lafayette came out loose, confident and aggressive.
It showed from the start when they built up a 24-7 lead, but they just weren’t able to hang on late against a familiar 5A foe. West Point scored 21 unanswered points in the second half at Lafayette on Friday night, coming all the way back to win 28-24, their fourth victory over Lafayette in three years.
“The message was simple. What are we going to do between now and November to play these guys again?” Lafayette head coach Michael Fair said. “We’ve got a long ways to go and we have a tough district. But I think we have the team. If we continue to improve each week and get better, I think we can play those guys again.”
It didn’t take long to see the kind of mindset Fair wanted to play with against a team that has had Lafayette’s number so much of late. In the game’s first drive, after a 40-yard pass from Tyrus Williams to Randy Anderson set up the Commodores inside the Green Wave 10-yard line, the Commodores stalled. Yet on a 4th and 2 from the West Point 4-yard line, the Commodore offense was still on the field to go for it. They wanted seven. Lafayette would false start on that play, settling for the short, chip-shot field goal, but the tone was set. Lafayette was coming for it all.
After West Point’s Jimothy Mays gave the Green Wave a 7-3 lead on the next drive, Lafayette got aggressive yet again. Commodore senior Tabias Brown intercepted West Point on their next drive, setting up a Randy Anderson touchdown to give Lafayette the lead back. Their next offensive series, Williams hit Anderson on a flair pass, which Anderson would turn around and throw 52 yards downfield to Brendan Toles. The trickery set Lafayette up 17-7 entering the half.
Lafayette scored first again out of the half, but then West Point began creeping all the way back. The critical moment in the game came mid-way through the third quarter. With West Point backed up all the way to a 2nd and 43, Lafayette was called for back-to-back-to-back personal foul penalties. Obviously, West Point would score on that drive, cutting the score to 24-14.
That drive was really a picturesque moment of time in what was an ugly game to watch as a fan. Lafayette was called for 26 penalties. Sure, some were self-inflicted, like the prior-mentioned false start. But they were also called for 8 personal fouls, many of which appeared questionable at best. Fair, in turn, declined to comment on the officiating.
Commodore sophomore quarterback Tyrus Williams had one of his best halves throwing the football in the first half, but was forced to leave the game right before halftime with an injury. Anderson took over, and the Lafayette offense that had such a dynamic feel to it for so long stagnated. It’s certainly not Anderson’s fault – he was involved in all three of Lafayette’s touchdowns on the night – but the Commodores failed to score in the fourth quarter. In that same fourth quarter, the Green Wave scored twice on the ground behind Mays and Dantariyus Cannon.
With all this, Lafayette still had a chance at the end. Taking over with just over one minute left and no timeouts, the Commodores needed to march over 60 yards, needing a touchdown. There were a couple plays the Commodores would’ve wanted back in that last drive, but they still had the ball on the West Point six yard line for one final play to win. Anderson’s rush just came up short.
“Tonight really is just another growing pain. We’re going to learn from it and get better,” Fair said. “They came out in the second half and played with a little more intensity, which is what you’d expect from someone that’s won it three times in a row. But we scored well early and I think we played well. Just couldn’t make the plays at the end to win the game.”
The loss puts Lafayette’s hardest 5A game remaining test on paper behind them. But the season isn’t over. They control their own destiny in the search for their playoff berth. All in all, this loss leaves the Commodores 3-2 on the season and 0-1 in Region 1-5A.
Next week, Lafayette hits the road for a game against Grenada.
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