Hornets make playoffs with big win

Published 4:29 am Saturday, October 27, 2012

Poplarville wrapped up a Class 4A South State playoff berth Friday night.

The visiting Hornets beat Vancleave 54-35, securing the last playoff seeed in Region 8-4A. Poplarville is 4-6 on the year and will travel to Quitman to open the playoffs Friday night.

Senior quarterback Terren Crowley accounted for four of the Bulldog touchdowns with three on the ground and one through the air.

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“This feels really good. I’m so proud of my boys,” Poplarville head coach Chris Teal said. “We came out a little flat and I don’t know what that was all about I mean this was a playoff game. Say what you want about the last regular season game but our playoffs started today…. We treated it like a playoff game and my boys came out and played like it in the second half.”

Neither team was able to move the ball early, but the last third of  the first quarter saw a scoring explosion. Hornet running back Malik  Lucas picked up more than 50 yards on an inside hand-off and Jiquan James finished off the Hornet drive with a touchdown run from the one. Crowley took over on the next Bulldog drive, rushing the ball four times  for 35 yards, including a two-yard scamper that made the score 7-6 after a missed extra point.

After forcing a punt on the next Poplarville drive, Crowley tallied rushes of 28 and 18 before punching the ball in from the four to give the Bulldogs the lead, 12-7. Senior running back Jamie Johnson caught the pitch from Crowley for the two-point conversion and a 14-7 Vancleave lead with 8:12 left in the half. Less than two minutes later, the Hornets tied the game on an electric 56-yard run from Rojae Raine. The Poplarville defense then forced a three-and-out, but the offense was soon put in a fourth-and-long situation from mid-field. After lining up for what appeared to be an attempt to draw Vancleave offsides, quarterback Drake Hodges took the direct snap, hit a hole on the left side and was gone for 50 yards to put the Hornets back up 21-14.

Vancleave took over with three minutes remaining in the half and Crowley once again led them down the field. Two plays after Ladarius Marks caught a 28-yard pass to get the Bulldogs inside the 20, Crowley scored his third  touchdown of the night to once again tie the score. The Hornets took over with less than a minute remaining and quickly began moving the ball. While making a tackle, Crowley apparently injured his left leg and  had to be helped off the field. With 15 seconds left in the  first half, James struck again, this time on a draw play that went for 61 yards, putting the Hornets up 28-21 heading into halftime.

Neither offense looked sharp as the second half began, especially Crowley’s Bulldogs, who were unable to rush the ball as effectively as they had in the first. A Vancleave fumble halfway through the third quarter gave the Hornets the ball at mid-field. They continued to pound the ball and eat up the clock with Lucas, James and Baine doing the heavy lifting. With one minute remaining in the quarter, James scored his third touchdown of the game to put the Hornets up 35-21. To start the fourth quarter, Vancleave answered with a 50 yard drive of their own. This one saw Marks take a toss from 33 yards out to the house less than one minute later to cut the score to 35-21.

The offensive explosion continued on the next drive as Lucas broke several tackles for a 40-yard run to inside the nine. Lucas continued to pound the rock, eventually scoring from the four to put the Hornets up 41-28 after a blocked extra point. Once again, the Bulldogs answered with a drive of their own as this one saw Crowley completing a 19-yard pass to Corey Feranda before finishing things off with a 12-yard  pass to Johnson to make the score 41-35 with 5:40 remaining. Despite closing the  gap, Lucas removed all doubt two minutes later with a 49-yard scamper to put the Hornets up 47-35. Vancleave then muffed the ensuing kickoff, which was recovered by Poplarville. With 1:23 remaining, Lucas scored once more from 30 yards out to make the final score 54-35.

Also, for Poplarville Daniel Smith pressured Crowley all night and made at least three key sacks in the fourth quarter…

“This is the first  time we’ve done this in a long time in poplarville and we have a lot of  work to do, but I am proud of my boys,” Teal concluded. “We’re going to enjoy this and start getting ready monday. We aren’t going to do anything special, just go out and work hard and be prepared.”