Poplarville’s late comeback not enough against Lafayette

Published 7:24 pm Saturday, December 3, 2016

Jesse Pernell eclipsed 200 rushing yards in the 4A State Championship game against Lafayette. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

Jesse Pernell eclipsed 200 rushing yards in the 4A State Championship game against Lafayette. Photo by Jeremy Pittari

During the cold and rainy Saturday afternoon, Poplarville made a valiant push late in the third quarter of the 4A MHSAA State Championship game in an attempt at a comeback after giving up 20 unanswered points in the first half to the Lafayette Commodores. The Hornets came up short as Lafayette won 27-12.

“The weather didn’t really affect our team. We just missed a couple of crucial blocks and opportunities to keep it a close game. Our hats are off to Lafayette,” Poplarville Head Football Coach Jay Beech said.

Hornets’ senior fullback Jesse Pernell put stats up on the board with 26 totes for 216 yards and Poplarville’s first touchdown late in the third quarter.

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“Jesse is a phenomenal kid and a great leader. He will be missed, but his leadership will live through this program for the rising players,” Beech said.

To start the game, the stout Commodore defense forced the Hornets to punt in its first two possessions. Once Lafayette received the ball, they took little time to find the end zone when quarterback William Ard threw a 77-yard bomb to Tyler Williams with 7:53 remaining in the first quarter.

However, on the first play of the second quarter, Hornets senior Camden Ray nabbed an interception on the goal line, stopping a charging Commodore offense from gaining momentum. After that, Hornets quarterback threw an interception of his own, setting Lafayette’s star running back, Jamarcus Quarles up for a 20-yard rushing touchdown, giving his team a 14-0 cushion in the second quarter.

Poplarville tried to get back into the game, including two trick plays on third-and-long scenarios, both of which were converted by Pernell. However, while attempting a hook and lateral, Commodore Brandon Turnage interrupted the exchange and took the ball to the house, bringing the score to 20-0 after a missed extra-point attempt in the final seconds of the first half.

Poplarville’s attempt to come back was a little too late, with scoring plays from Pernell—three-yard rush—and a 20-yard run from Peytan Graham in the fourth quarter.

When the last bell rang the score was 27-12.

“This team will always be remembered for their tremendous efforts throughout the whole season and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Beech said.