Hornets head into second round against Quitman
Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 10, 2016
In their effort to win the 4A Mississippi Football Championship title, the Poplarville Hornets beat Pass Christian High School 63-21 Friday night.
As the team moves to the second round of the playoffs, the Hornets will line up against a talented Quitman team with a similar offensive scheme as Poplarville’s.
“We know we are only playing good teams now, but we aren’t going to change what is working for us. We are going to continue to come out and play ball like we have all season and take it game by game,” Poplarville’s Head Football Coach Jay Beech said after his victory over Pass Christian.
The Quitman Panthers (6-6; 3-2 district) defeated the Lawrence County Cougars (4-8; 3-2 district) 28-15 in the first round of the playoffs and now face a Hornets offense the Panthers have yet to see this season.
In Quitman’s 5-4A District, the highest scoring offense is the undefeated West Lauderdale Knights, who have scored 352 points throughout the 2016 season, 157 of those against district foes. Poplarville has scored 415 points this season with more than half being during district play.
Seniors Saveonn Evans and Brijuan Dace lead Quitman’s offense. Together, Evans and Dace have 15 rushing touchdowns for the Panthers. Although these two players have found the end zone most often, two other Quitman running backs lead the team in total rushing yards.
Freshman Jed Lewis leads the Panthers with nearly 500 rushing yards, but has only found the end zone twice. Sophomore Ty’drekus Carpenter has 484 total rushing yards this season, also scoring twice.
With six running backs on the Quitman roster scoring this season for a total of 21 touchdowns, it’s clear both teams love to run the ball.
Poplarville is 5-0 in the 7-4A District for a reason, and that is because of its vigorous backfield—as well as a rock solid defense that has allowed only 170 points in 10 games.
Hornets’ running backs Jesse Pernell and Austin Bolton are strong forces for Poplarville. Hornets’ Pernell has scored as many rushing touchdowns as the entire Quitman Panthers team (21).
Throughout his senior year, Pernell has been a tough running back to tackle. With his 200-pound 5’11’’ frame, it usually takes more than one defender to take him down, which allows Poplarville to take extra yards on a handful of plays per game.
Bolton uses his speed to get away from defenders, running outside the hash marks and turning the corner up the field before linebackers can reach him on running and passing plays.
Bolton has 1,194 total rushing yards going into Friday’s game, and 14 trips to the end zone.
Also, if the Hornets keep to Beech’s plan of sticking to what they have been doing all season, their defense will be a deciding factor in Friday’s game.
The Hornets defense has 28 sacks in the 10 games they have played this season and even started the playoffs with a sack during the first play of the game. Those 28 sacks, backed opponents down the field for a total of 294 yards.
This aggressive front seven gives the Hornets’ secondary opportunities to do what they do best and cause havoc for opposing receivers with 15 interceptions, 11 pass deflections and six fumble recoveries.
Kick off is at 7 p.m. at Poplarville Friday.