LaFayette’s season ends in 42-3 loss to Highland Home

Published 12:45 am Saturday, November 17, 2018

LaFAYETTE — In a matchup between two teams with long winning streaks, the Highland Home Flying Squadron extended their winning streak to 11 games, besting the LaFayette Bulldogs 42-3 on a chilly night at Bulldog Stadium. Highland Home advanced to a third round playoff game in Class 2A. LaFayette, which saw a six-game win streak come to an end, finished the year 7-4.

The Bulldog offense couldn’t get anything going for most of the night. Credit a very good Highland Home defense for much of that, but LaFayette just didn’t have their usual execution and missed out on big-play opportunities that were there.

For most of the opening period it was a defensive struggle with neither team managing to sustain anything on offense. Late in the first quarter, the visitors got a big break in the kicking game when a fumbled punt rolled into the end zone with the Squadr0n covering it for the game’s first score. With Highland Home facing fourth and 13 near midfield, they lined up as if they were going to go for it. The quarterback then dropped into deep formation and punted it away. A LaFayette player dropped back and had trouble holding onto the ball on the first cold-night game of the season. The ball squirted into the end zone with the Squadron coming away with an early Christmas present.

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A successful PAT made it 7-0 in favor of Highland Home with 3:56 left in the first quarter. The gift score was a sign of bad things to come for the Bulldogs. It really wouldn’t get much better for the rest of the game.

Another mishandled kick left LaFayette in a hole following the kickoff, at their 19. They couldn’t move it and punted it away on fourth and five. The Squadron took over in great field position and marched the ball 53 yards for their second score of the game. A three-yard run by Hall made it 14-0 with 11:52 left in the second period.

Another mishandled kickoff had LaFayette starting their next drive on the 22. It quickly turned into disaster as a pass over the middle was intercepted on the LaFayette 35. The Bulldog defense held this time, but the team’s sputtering offense had to punt it back. This time the Squadron would take it 53 yards for their third score of the game. A long tun by Hall set up the score. The big play gave them a first-and-goal on the one and they scored on the next play. Hall took it across the goal over right guard. That made it 21-0 with 7:30 left in the half.

A terrific kickoff return by TyQuavian Daniel had the Bulldogs in business with a first and ten on the Highland Home 43. Three incomplete passes, though, and the Bulldogs had to punt again.

After the LaFayette defense made a stand and forced a Highland Home punt, the Bulldogs finally got a drive going late in the half. A run by Keandre Peterson got the ball across midfield. A pass from quarterback Jaelin McCurdy to JaMariae Daniel advanced the ball to Highland Home six and a first and goal. That would be as far as they’d get. An illegal procedure penalty set them back to the 11. Three incomplete passes brought up fourth and goal.

Senior kicker Markevious Tolbert then kicked a 28-yard field goal to make the score 21-3 with 1:57 to go in the half.

As it would turn out, that would be the only score of the game for LaFayette. The Bulldog offense was about as cold as the Friday night weather.

Things looked promising at the start of the second half. Peterson returned the kickoff past midfield. On first down, though, the Bulldogs lost 11 yards on a busted play. They couldn’t get out of that hole and had to punt on fourth and long. There was a big of excitement on the third down play when a long pass from McCurdy to Daniel skipped off the receiver’s hands in the open field. Had it gathered it in, he would have easily scored.

The punt went straight up in the air and only a few yards downfield. This gave Highland Home the ball for the first time in the second half on the LaFayette 49. Given that kind of field position, they drove it in for their fourth TD of the game to make it 28-3. A pass from Phillips to Brantley from seven yards out accounted for the score. With 8:46 showing in the third period, LaFayette had fallen 25 points behind.

Following the kickoff, LaFayette had one of their better drives of the game, moving the ball from their 30 to the Highland Home 20 before losing it on downs. A nice run by Victor Tolbert got them started. That got the ball across midfield and a first down. A pass from McCurdy to Daniel moved the ball to the 31 and a quarterback draw by McCurdy advanced it to the 20.

Four incomplete passes later and Highland Home had the ball back. This time they’d take it 80 yards to make it 35-3 with 1:44 left in the quarter. Running back Hill accounted for most of the yardage. Phillips, the quarterback, scored on a seven-yard run up the middle and toward the left corner just inside the pylon.

Early in the fourth quarter, Highland Home got their final score on a 40-yard run by Hill. That made it 42-3 with 10:55 left in the game.

With the game clearly out of hand, the officials ran the clock for the rest of the game. That cut down on the number of plays and the opportunities to score.

Give Highland Home credit. They are a very good 2A team and will be hard to beat. After a six-game winning streak, Friday’s setback was a deeply disappointing way for the season to end for LaFayette. The Bulldogs do have a good nucleus of returning players to have another winning season next year. The one good thing about Friday’s game for LaFayette is that it showed they have much to work on going into next season. It’s now a matter of getting back to work and staying with it. That’s the only way to improve.