Blue Devils defeat Hornets

Published 12:25 am Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Poplarville Hornets started out strong at home against the Pearl River Central Blue Devils on Friday but the Devils ultimately defeated the Hornets with a final score of 21-13.

The Hornets had possession at the top of the first quarter and junior fullback Jesse Pernell ran the ball for a touchdown with 8:12 left on the clock. The quarter ended with a score of 7-0.

For much of the second quarter the two teams seemed evenly matched, with neither side giving much ground. But then, late in the quarter, the Blue Devils turned the corner when senior wide receiver Austin Champagne scored a touchdown with 1:37 left to play. The team successfully completed an extra-point, ending the quarter with a tie, 7-7.

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If the Hornet’s have a strength, it is their strong, surprising start. They came out gangbusters last week to score a quick touchdown and again at the beginning of this game. They did it again after halftime, with a phenomenal play by Pernell, who on the first play, glided past the Blue Devils and ran nearly 80 yards before he was stopped by the Blue Devils. Minutes later, Pernell got a chance to score a touchdown but the Hornets missed the two-point conversion. The score was then 13-7.

But from there Poplarville was lackluster, while PRC rallied.

The Blue Devils caught up late in the third quarter when senior running back Christian Roberts scored a touchdown with 5:35 left to play, which tied the teams, 13-13.

That tie didn’t last long after Blue Devils senior running back Hunter Holifield scored a touchdown with 58 seconds left to play. After successfully completing a two-point conversion, the Blue Devils ended the quarter with a score of 13-21.

The Hornets weren’t able to turn it around in the fourth, although a penalty call saved Poplarville from further setback. The call was made for blocking the back, and it invalidated a spectacular sprint by Blue Devil Holifield who made it nearly 90 yards and would have had a touchdown, but for the call.

Nevertheless, the Hornets could not recover and the game ended.

Pearl River Head Coach Eric Collins said he was proud of his team’s performance and attributed their strong defense for their Friday night win.

“Our defense did great and our offense did just enough,” Collins said.

He rounded his players together to congratulate them on the win and said, “All in all, it was a great win against a team ready to go.”

Several players from both teams suffered injuries but Collins said that his team has to learn to better adjust when those injuries occur.

The Hornets defense played tough, only cracking a couple of times, but that defense could have more cracks next week. Two Hornets went down in the game, junior defense tackle Chad Hart and senior defense tackle Shannon Nelson. At the end of the game, Hornets Coach Jay Beech said both players had ankle injuries, but he didn’t know how bad the injuries were.

Compared to a week ago, the Hornets were tougher, stronger and an all-around better team on Friday, Beech said.

Their healthy presence on the field was due in no small part to the fast feet of Pernell.

“Pernell’s a great back, but it’s a team effort,” Beech said.

While the team looked better than last week, it still had its weak spots.

“Our defense played their guts out,” Beech said.

As tough as the defense was Friday, that’s only part of any team.

“They just didn’t have a lot of help from the offense,” said Beech, of his defense.

Next Friday the Hornets will face Lumberton at home in Poplarville. The Lumberton Panthers were still playing theirFriday game as of print deadline, but they lost their Aug. 21 game to Perry Central 39 – 0.

On Sept.11, the Blue Devils will travel to Gulfport to play Harrison Central. Harrison Central’s Friday game was still in progress as of deadline, but they lost their Aug. 21 game to Vicksburg, 14 – 13.

Kickoff for both games is at 7 p.m.