Hornets win big

Published 7:38 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2006

A beautiful queen, a comfortable win and a cool, fall night all combined to make the Poplarville High School homecoming one of the best in several years.

In pre-game ceremonies Friday, senior Lydia Alexius was crowned queen of the 2006 homecoming festivities by Superintendent Gylde Fitzpatrick. After the crowning, the queen and her court watched the Poplarville Hornets cruise to a 35-14 win over the visiting Bay High Tigers.

The Hornet defense came out of the gate on the slow side as the Tigers moved the ball well into Poplarville territory before turning the ball over on fourth down.

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The Poplarville offense showed they planned to continue the winning ways of the previous week by mounting a solid drive for the game’s first score. After moving the ball into Tiger territory, quarterback Matt Williams handed off to Brandon Peters who threaded his way into the clear for a 35 yard touchdown.

Shelby Purvis kicked the point after for a 7-0 Hornet lead at 5:32 in the first quarter.

“We came off a big emotional win last week and I thought the kids came out and played hard and took Bay out of the game,” Hornet Head Coach Lance Mancuso said after the game.

The Tigers were again unable to capitalize on their next possession and Poplarville came right back with 1:50 showing on the clock for their second six. Williams (8 for 9 with 1 interception) found J.J. Richardson through the air for nine yards and the TD. The PAT kick failed but Poplarville had a 13-0 lead after one period.

In the second quarter, Bay High finally broke the scoring plane when the Tigers workhorse, Tony Connetti, went to the races for a 35 yard score. He ended the night with 11 carries for 96 yards. Bryant Wilson kicked the point after to close the gap to 13-7.

The Hornets were not finished with the first half though. Williams called his own number, electrifying the homecoming crowd with a 70-yard burst through the left side of the line for pay dirt. Ike Bowden then added a two point conversion with 2:30 left in the half for a 21-7 lead.

The run gave Williams the Hornet rushing honors at 72, followed by Peters with 44, Antoine with 36 and Seth Sones with 25 to cap the top Poplarville rushers.

Poplarville continued digging the hole for the Tigers in the third stanza, despite several miscues. While the Hornets were only penalized four time for 40 yards to the Tigers five for 35 yards, Poplarville coughed the ball up six times and lost five of them. Bay High fumbled twice, losing both.

“Our execution is not what it needs to be late in the game,” Mancuso said. “We need to go back to work Monday and look at that, hoping we’re going to get a lot better.”

“We got a big stretch of games down the road and we’re going to have to play a lot better than we played tonight to be able to compete with those teams we have left in the schedule.”

At the 7:32 mark Peters scored from eight yards out and Purvis’ kick was good to up the lead to 28-7. The score was set up when swarming Hornet punt coverage forced a fumble, recovered deep in Tiger territory at the 9:46 mark. Ike Bowden had a score in the subsequent drive nullified on a penalty.

Then, late in the quarter at 2:48, Pierre Raine set the stage for the final Poplarville score, hauling in a Williams’ pass and was edged out at the Tiger two. Antoine punched the ball over from the two yard line and Purvis’ kick again was good.

Bay High managed to get on the board for the final score of the game when Destin Johnson, who did much of the QB chores for the Tigers, ran the ball in from the Hornet two. Wilson’s kick was good.

Dakota Sheppard came in as quarterback for a good bit of the second half after Poplarville built up a lead, Mancuso said.

“He’s one play away every ballgame from getting in the ballgame. He’s going to be a real good quarterback for us,” Mancuso said. “We felt like we needed to get him in the game with the varsity guys and get some time in with those guys …”

The Hornets travel next week to Forrest County who is 6-0 after Friday‘s 35-10 win over Gautier.

“We’re going to have to play awfully well to win next week,” Mancuso said.