It’s hard to pinpoint the play of the game when the final score is 52-22 like it was for LaFayette High school in Beulah on Friday night. The Bulldogs started fast and finished fast with barely a bump in between but if you had to pick a singular play that set the tone for the evening that moment would came with two seconds remaining in the first half with Lafayette already ahead 32-6.
Junior quarterback JaTarvious Whitlow took the snap and was immediately surrounded by Bobcat defenders with the horn sounding signaling the end of what was already a dominating first half of Bulldog football. Whitlow quickly reversed field with three Bobcats hot on his trail then threw a pass of his back right foot to the left side of the end zone where junior receiver Jamarious Beatty was waiting. The Bulldogs went up 38-6 at the half and the energy of the Beulah crowd-there celebrating Homecoming-was transferred to the visiting LaFayette fans.
The Bulldogs offense was powered by a number of fantastic performances none better than Whitlow’s 295 yard passing, 99 yard rushing, four touchdown pass (in addition to a rushing touchdown) and two defensive interception classic performance. Did I mention the junior and state champion guard score from 60 yards on a fumble recovery for the Bulldogs first points of the game.
The game didn’t necessarily start this way for LaFayette as following a 50 yard completion from Whitlow to JaMarquez Boston-Gaines that put the Bulldogs deep into Bobcat territory the Bulldogs immediately turned over the ball on a fumbled snap. The crisis would quickly be averted as the Bulldogs would score 16 unanswered points during the first quarter. They would score eight more points before an overmatched Bobcat squad scored their first touchdown midway through the second quarter on a five yard run by senior running back Kelvin Miller (106 yards rushing).
The Bulldog lead would balloon to as much as 44-6 early in the fourth quarter. Even when the LaFayette offense was halted by a penalty-calling back an 80 yard catch and run from Whitlow to sophomore running back Robert Houston, Jr.(65 yards on 10 carries)-the scoring continued. The following play had Whitlow complete another touchdown pass this time to JaMarquez Boston-Gaines for the 80 yards. Everything on offense was going the Bulldogs way, the defense wasn’t so bad themselves.
Senior Walter Dukes and sophomore Omar Boston were made their presences felt on defense the entire night combining for 33 tackles between them. Whitlow’s two interceptions aside, seniors safety Quentin Ray and cornerback Mathew Cartwright shut down the Bobcat receivers on the few occasions that sophomore quarterback Trent Lewis attempted to throw.
Bulldog head coach James Lucas had an opportunity to put a few Fall call-ups on the field with the game in hand early in the fourth quarter. Eighth grade defensive ends Aquanious “Yogi” Barker and Tariq Staples got a chance to get in on a few tackles on defense while fellow middle schooler Corey Boston took a few snaps at quarterback.
It wasn’t just the underclassmen that made the most of a rare opportunity, Tydareious Scott, a 6’0” junior receiver caught a couple passes while demonstrating the ability to get into open space. He may be the extra weapon the Bulldogs need heading into the playoffs. LaFayette will advance into the postseason not on the strength of what was their best overall performance of the season at Beulah but courtesy of a Reeltown win at home against Lanett. The loss dropped the Panthers to 5-5 on the season with the same exact Region 5 record as the Bulldogs. LaFayette’s 6-3 overall record (along with an early season defeat of Reeltown) leaves no need for tie-breakers.
Lucas feels the hard work is far from over for his team. “When you start the playoffs you’re 0-0 and it doesn’t matter if you went 10-0 or 6-3 during the regular season.” Lucas says, “That’s what the season is all about, you have to get into the mentality that every game is a big game.” Even the ones your team wins by 30 points on the road.
LaFayette will next host Saks on Thursday, October 29. The Bulldogs will have their ‘Senior Night’ celebration to close the regular season.
Follow Sports Editor Donnell Suggs and The LaFayette Sun on Twitter @suggswriter and @lsunnews