Poplarville opens region play with a win

Published 12:00 pm Saturday, October 5, 2013

Poplarville extended a pair of streaks Friday night.

Jiquan James ran for over 100 yards and scored on a 68-yard run, and also came up with a big stop late in the game on defense as the homestanding Hornets held off win-less Moss Point 21-14.

The win was the fourth straight for Poplarville, now 5-1, and the loss was the sixth straight for Moss Point, now 0-6. It was the Region 8-4A opener for both teams.

James combined with fellow running mates Malik Lucas and Rojae Raine for almost 400 yards of total offense on the evening. In addition, James stuffed a Tiger runner with a 3-yard loss on fourth and two at the Hornet 22 with three minutes to play and the Hornets took over and ran the clock out.

“They just outplayed us, that’s it. They do what they do well and they did just that,” Moss Point head coach Ed East said.

Moss Point actually took an early 6-0 lead thanks to a Hornet fumble deep in their own territory which the Tigers turned into a 9-yard scoring run by Kevin Moody. It was one of four fumbles the Hornets lost in the game.

James took less than a minute to even things up, dashing the 68-yards for the score. Cody Mikell’s first of three point-afters made it 7-6, and gave Poplarville a lead it would never relinquish.

The Hornets extended the lead minutes later, when after stopping the Tigers on downs at the Poplarville 36 Chandler Ray hit Lucas on a 34-yard scoring strike.

“Any district win is a good win, but we can play a whole lot better,” Poplarville head coach Chris Teal said. “My biggest worry after the open week last week was that we wouldn’t come out and be as sharp as we needed to be, and that was the case for  most of the night. We were able to make some play when we needed to.”

The Hornet advantage would remain at eight until the final period, when Raine extended the lead on a 35-yard scoring run.

But the Tigers fought back, as quarterback Bennie Curry marched the team quickly down the field and hooked up with Juan Parker on a 22-yard touchdown toss. Curry then found Abron Sipp on a short pass for the two point conversion, and Moss Point trailed 21-14 with eight minutes to play.

The Hornets fourth and final fumble of the night was recovered by Moss Point’s Lajohn Reeves at mid-field thee plays after the ensuing kickoff.

But James stormed in along with safety Blake Mata minutes later to stop the Tigers’ final threat. Three plays before that, Curry scrambled for an apparent first down to the Hornet 12, but the play was nullified by a holding penalty and the ball moved back to the 33 yard line.

“I’m never proud  of a loss,” East added. “We still got a lot of fundamental things to work on that we have to get better at.”

Lucas paced Poplarville’s ground attack with 117 yards rushing, while Raine James had 110 and James 107 on the ground. All three backs ran for over 1,000 yards last season.

Both teams remain in league play next week, as Poplarville travels to Pass Christian and Moss Point heads to Vancleave.