Picayune knocks off Poplarville

Published 8:16 pm Monday, October 8, 2007

An undermanned Poplarville squad gave homestanding and heavily favored Picayune all it could handle Friday night.

In the end, though, the Maroon Tide prevailed 35-20 thanks to a trio of players that accounted for two touchdowns apiece.

“We weren’t very good, but they had a lot to do with that,” Picayune head coach Dodd Lee, whose team moved to 4-1 overall but more importantly 2-0 in Division 8-4A play, said. “They came to play and they played hard and with a lot of heart and they were a few dropped passes away from beating us.”

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Picayune got two short scoring scampers from Albert Richard and Drew Cole got a rushing touchdown and hauled in a scoring pass from quarterback Caleb Hickman as well. Also, Hickman added a scoring run of his own.

The Hornets, who were without several key players due to injuries, fell to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in league play.

“Our kids played hard and showed a lot of character and heart out their tonight,” Poplarville head coach lance Mancuso said. “We had our chances to win, but we made some mistakes that hurt us when we had those chances.”

Early on, it looked as if the Maroon Tide would use another fast start to cruise to an easy win much like it did against Pearl River Central last week.

Richard capped a quick scoring drive the first time the Tide touched the ball, scoring from 3-yards out less than two minutes into the game.

Poplarville responded with a drive of its own, but Picayune’s Jonathan Billups pounced on a Hornet fumble at the Tide 28 to end the march.

Cole then made the lead two touchdowns, as Picayune marched down the field and the versatile senior capped the drive with a 2-yard plunge.

Pierre Raine was key for Poplarville all night, from both his defensive end spot and his tight end spot. He scooped up a fumble and returned it seven yards early in the second quarter to put Poplarville on the board.

Richard made the lead two touchdowns again, as Picayune took the ensuing kickoff and moved down the field and the speedy senior scored from 3-yards out to make it 21-6.

“We did a few things right, but we did a lot fundamentally wrong also,” Lee added. “And there are a lot of little things that we have to improve on or it will hurt us down the road.”

Raine got back into the mix on Poplarville’s next series, as he hauled in a 64-yard scoring catch from quarterback Matt Williams to cut the deficit to one score again.

But Picayune responded, as Hickman hit Cole with time running out in the first half with a 4-yard touchdown toss and the Tide went into halftime up 28-12.

Picayune’s Reggie Bailey, who was a standout on both sides of the ball for the Maroon Tide at times Friday, then put his team in position to extend the lead when he recovered a Hornet fumble close to mid-field mid-way through the third frame.

Hickman ended the drive when he kept on a bootleg around left end for 11 yards and the score, and Matt Dragon’s fifth extra point of the night made it 35-12.

But the Hornets never quit, and Ira White drew Poplarville closer in the opening minutes of the final quarter when he scooted 20 yards for a score.

Chansler Houston added the two point conversion that resulted in the final score.

Poplarville had a chance to cut the but a Hornet receiver dropped a sure touchdown pass in last half of the period and then the Tide defense rose to the occasion and forced Poplarville to turn the ball over on downs twice inside Picayune territory in the final minutes.

Richard ended up with 164 yards rushing and the two scores on the night.

Poplarville’s Williams not only played quarterback, but he saw time at safety and returned kickoffs and played on the punting team as well.

“He never left the field, that is what high school football is all about a kid like that,” Lee added. “If we had 22 like him, or anybody did, you wouldn’t have anything to worry about.”