Poplarville stuns Bearcats, 41-36

Published 1:41 am Sunday, September 24, 2006

Poplarville knocked off defending Division 8-4A champion Long Beach Friday night, in what could be considered the biggest win so far for Hornet head coach Lance Mancuso with the Hornets.

Poplarville pulled out an exciting 41-36 win, handing the Bearcats their first loss of the year in a thriller that kept spectators on the edge of their seats for every quarter.

“Our kids played their hearts out tonight,” said Mancuso, in his second year at the helm of the Hornets. “They could have quit several times, these guys have been on the ropes for the past I don’t know how many years.”

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This game leaves each team with overall records of 4-1, but Poplarville is 2-0 in league play and the Bearcats fall to 1-1.

The first touchdown of the game came with only 5:03 left on the clock by Hornets running back Justin Raine, the extra point put the score at 7-0. It would be the only score of the opening quarter, but just a prelude to the fireworks to come.

The Bearcats answered back in the second quarter with a 25 yard touchdown pass from quarter back Jeremy Hill to wide receiver Matt Moten, with 10:13 on the clock. The extra point was no good leaving the score at 7-6 and the Hornets still in the lead. About a minute and a half was shed off the clock before the Hornets made their second touchdown with a reverse from Hornets quarterback Matt Williams to Brandon Peters who pitched the ball to Ike Bowden who ran it in for a 45 yard touchdown. An unsuccessful attempt at the extra point left the score at 13-6.

The Bearcats kept momentum going with another touchdown by Ira Smith, the driving force of the team on runs, in the last part of the first half. All tied up and 1:57 left to play the score was 13-13 after the failed extra point attempt.

After halftime the Hornets kept control of the ball for most of the third quarter. Hornets quarterback Matt Williams ran the ball in from the one yard line with 9:13 on the clock and another failed attempt at the extra point put the score at 19-13. The Bearcats were not content to let the Hornets keep any kind of large lead as running back Santino Davis ran the ball in from the three yard line thanks to Smith inching the ball towards the goal line play after play. Davis’ touchdown came with 6:58 on the clock and a successful kick for the extra point put the Bearcats in the lead for the first time Friday night with 20-19.

Less than two minutes whittled from the clock before the Hornets grabbed the lead again as Peters carried the ball in for a touchdown from eight yards out with 5:03 left to play. The Hornets scored two points on a conversion run by Bowde, putting the score at 27-20.

Ten minutes dwindled from the clock in the fourth quarter and the Bearcats still had control of the ball before they scored with a run from Smith, his second of three for the night. The score was then 28-27 after a Bearcats two point conversion and 5:46 on the clock.

Raine scored the next touchdown for the Hornets with a ten yard run and 3:20 left to play. Making the score 33-28.

At this point the Hornets thought they had the game in the bag as the team and fans celebrated on their side of the field, but that was only slightly premature. Once the Bearcats got the ball again Smith drove it all the way down the field and scored on a 35-yard run for their last touchdown of the evening. With only 1:07 left to play, the Hornets trailed 36-33.

In one last attempt at victory the Hornets put all they had into their last possession of the ball game. With 26 seconds left on the clock the Hornets scored a 45 yard touchdown pass from Williams to Bowden. The successful two point conversion put the score at 41-36 and left the Bearcats 15 seconds to make their comeback.

The Bearcats attempted two long passes to grab the lead but both passes missed their mark. The game ended, the Hornets celebrated with the crowd and the Bearcats walked off the field with disappointed looks upon their face.

“I thought our guys played hard too, when it all came down to it they made a few more plays than we did,” said Bearcats head coach Sean Harden.

Bearcat back Ira Smith had 36 carries for 256 yards while Hornets’ running back Bowden had 141 yards on 13 carries and running back Peters carried ten for 105 yards.

The Bearcats will play a home game next week against the Pearl River Central Blue Devils while the Hornets will host the Bay St. Louis Tigers.