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Vancleave upsets Poplarville

By Veto Roley
Special to the Sun Herald

VANCLEAVE — Walter Williams ran for 114 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead Vancleave to a 36-7 upset over Region 8-4A champion Poplarville on Friday night.
However, with Moss Point’s 29-13 win over Bay High, region standings remained static following the Bulldogs’ win. Poplarville (8-2, 4-1) takes the region’s top seed into the playoffs next week followed by St. Stanislaus, Moss Point, and Vancleave (4-6, 3-2). Moss Point and Vancleave will be on the road to open up the playoffs.
“We won on the road last year,” said Vancleave coach Jim Bloomfield, adding that he did not know who Vancleave would play next week. “We have to get ready to play next week. We have to take care of business on the road. Our goal is to get better each week.”
Helping the Bulldogs is the return of junior quarterback Parker Bourque, who missed several games this year due to injury.
“It gives us more balance on offense,” Bloomfield said. “We can do a few more things with him out there. I’m happy to have him back.”
Although the game did not change Vancleave’s playoff picture, Williams said the win over the region’s top team gives the Bulldogs confidence going into the playoffs.
“We are on a roll right now,” he said. “We can’t stop now.”
Vancleave took advantage of a Hornets fumble and short punt to take an early 15-0 lead. However, Poplarville pulled itself back into the game in the second quarter, driving inside the Bulldogs 20, but not scoring, to turn momentum, and then scoring on Tyler Fricke’s 1-yard run just before the half to cut the lead to 15-7 at the break.
Vancleave, however, would turn to Williams to regain momentum. Williams returned a short Hornets kickoff to the Poplarville 30 to start the third quarter. He then carried the ball seven-of-eight plays, scoring from 4 yards out to put the Bulldogs up 22-7 three minutes into the second half.
Later in the third quarter, Williams took advantage of 40-yard Marlon Warren run to score his fourth touchdown on a 2-yard plunge to give Vancleave a three touchdown lead, 29-7. Warren added the final score of the night, scoring from 3 yards out on Vancleave’s third drive of the second half. Williams had a pair of 2-yard scoring runs in the first quarter as the Bulldogs struck for a 15-0 lead with seven minutes left in the first quarter.
“I had a pretty good night,” Williams said. “But I have to give all the credit to the blockers up front.”
Jesse Pernell led Poplarville with 113 yards on 11 carries and had a 70-yard run late in the second quarter to set up the Hornets touchdown. He also caught a pass for 16 yards. Camden Ray was in eight stops for the defense.