By Joseph W. Gex, II
The Picayune Item
Poplarville's return to the Class 4A South State playoffs didn't last long.
The Hornets traveled to Quitman Friday night with an upset in their mind but it just wasn't meant to be as the powerful Panthers beat the Hornets 54-20.
The Hornets (4-7) stuck it to the Panthers a few times in the first half and stayed within striking distance. But, the third quarter spelled doom for Poplarville.
Jiquan James carried the ball 15 times for 170 yards and broke the 1,000-yard barrier. His effort pushed him to 1,130 yards on the season and gave the Hornets three 1,000-yard rushers in the backfield. Rojae Raine entered the game with 1,070 yards and Malik Lucas had tallied 1,122 yards prior to the playoff game.
A quick three-and-out gave Quitman the ball at the Hornet 28 after a big punt return.
It took Quitman just three plays to score as DeQuan Stanley rushed in from two yards out with 7:08 left in the first quarter. Dalton Smith made the score 7-0 with the PAT.
Again the Hornets were unable to convert on fourth down and turned the ball over.
Quitman found the end zone five plays later when Toriano Howard scored from two yards out. With 3:08 left in the quarter. Smith's PAT pushed the score to 14-0.
The Hornets put together a methodical 11-play drive as James and Malik Lucas shared responsibilities carrying the football. Lucas had four carries for 30 yards on the drive. Only the drive stalled on an interception.
Quitman took over at their own 29 yardline and three plays later made the score 21-0 with Franklin Jones' 66-yard run and Smith's PAT.
The Hornets broke the scoring drought on the ensuing possession. Rojae Raine returned the kick to the Panther 25 yardline and Drake Hodges found Raine for a nine-yard scoring aerial with 5:22 left in the first half. The PAT was no good leaving the score 21-7,
But, the Pathers needed just one play to score as Josh Davis ripped off a 40-yard run to push the score to 28-6 after Smith's PAT. Davis ended the game with 12 carries and 217 total yards.
The Hornets end the season at 4-7. Quitman advances to the second round and will play the winner of Columbia/Magee.