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Poplarville cruises to playoff victory

ENDZONE BOUND: Poplarville running back Malik Lucas scored three rushing touchdowns in the Hornets' 48-13 playoff victory Friday night. Photo by Dart Spiers

ENDZONE BOUND: Poplarville running back Malik Lucas scored three rushing touchdowns in the Hornets’ 48-13 playoff victory Friday night.
Photo by Dart Spiers

Poplarville started strong and never let up against Richland on Friday night as the Hornets cruised to a dominant 48-13 playoff victory, their first since 2006.

“Our hard work is paying off and we’re getting rewarded for that right now,” said Head Coach Jay Beech, “We’re excited to get a win and get back on the right track.”

“We’ve been telling our team to go one week at a time,” said Beech, “Focus on whoever we’ve got next so we can play another week.”

Poplarville running back Malik Lucas got the offense off to a quick start, scoring a first and goal rushing touchdown only 48 seconds into the game to put the Hornets up 7-0.

On the following possession, Richland converted a well-designed fake punt on fourth and long, sustaining their drive and setting up a 5-yard touchdown run from Rangers quarterback Marshall Kranz, tying the game 7-7 with 7:40 left to play in the first quarter.

Lucas finished off Poplarville’s ensuing drive with a 5-yard rushing touchdown, giving the Hornets a 14-7 lead with 3:30 remaining in the first quarter.

Kranz led the Richland offense into the Poplarville red zone, but a missed field goal ended the drive with 10:59 left in the first half.

Poplarville turned the ball over on downs, but a 46-yard touchdown run from Hornets wing back Anthony Martin on their next possession gave the Hornets a 21-7 lead with 5:14 left to play in the second quarter.

After the Hornets defense forced a Richland three and out, Kranz punted the ball to the Poplarville 14. Two plays later, Lucas blew the game open with an explosive 83-yard touchdown run, making the score 27-7 after a missed extra point attempt with 3:27 left in the half.

Richland showed signs of life after corner back Jaylon Robinson’s interception gave them a chance to score before halftime, but a holding penalty negated a touchdown pass, and Poplarville defensive back Tyler Griffin ended the half with an interception in the endzone on the next play.

Another long Lucas run set up Poplarville fullback Jesse Pernell for a 15-yard touchdown run, bringing the score to 34-7 with 8:41 to play in the third quarter.

The Hornets defense did not allow any points in the third quarter, and Pernell scored again from four yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter to make the score 41-7.

Poplarville ran the clock down throughout the fourth quarter before running back Ben Barry added a 6-yard touchdown run to give the Hornets a 48-7 lead. Kicker Nicholas Kirschbaum hit 6 of 7 extra point attempts on the night.

Kranz threw a 55-yard touchdown pass to Robinson for a late touchdown with 2:19 left to play. The two-point conversion attempt failed and Poplarville knelt the ball to secure their playoff victory and win the game 48-13.

With the win, the Hornets advanced to the second round of the playoffs and will host the Quitman Panthers in Poplarville next Friday night.