Poplarville seeks to be crowned King of the County

Published 7:00 am Thursday, August 24, 2017

POPLARVILLE — On Friday night, Poplarville stares down a chance to beat both of the other teams in the county within two weeks as they host Pearl River Central Friday night.

Poplarville came back from a score of 24-13 at halftime to defeat Picayune 27-24 behind Austin Bolton’s 232 rushing yards and three long touchdown runs, including 73, 63 and 37-yard rushes to the end zone. Bolton also broke out a 94-yard touchdown that was called back for a late penalty nearly 20 yards behind the tailback.

However, the stars of the show was Poplarville’s stout offensive line, a group of guys who all started last season.

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“They did a great job at setting the tone early in the game,” Poplarville Head Coach Jay Beech said about his offensive line. “They aren’t a big group, but they play with so much grit and aren’t afraid of anyone lining up against them.”

Even the defense proved strong after holding off one of the most lethal offensive threats in Mississippi in the second half of last Friday’s bout.

“That was a team effort, but it started with the front line. They didn’t get pushed around like Picayune does to a lot of opponents. Then, the linebackers did a great job of plugging the gaps,” Beech said.

Despite numerous attempts by the Tide to catch the Hornets’ secondary off guard with play action calls, Poplarville’s secondary remained resilient, allowing only one play over 25 yards.

In preparation of the team’s rival game against the Blue Devils (0-1), Beech said his team still needs to improve on several components of their game.

“Our special teams get better, but we are going to focus on ball security this week. We’re going to be facing a good defense this Friday so we need to get ready,” Beech said about his team, which fumbled twice in the season opener, recovering both.

On the plus side, the Hornets’ wing-T offense is tailored nicely for their trio of threats in the backfield, including Bolton, senior Roosevelt Raine and junior Tyson Holston.

Last season, Raine ran for 288 yards and three touchdowns. To begin his 2017 campaign, the 6’1’’ 210 lb. fullback rushed for 122 yards, including a 37-yard dash to the paydirt last Friday.

The Hornets are in good hands with veteran quarterback Antonio Barnes taking the snaps. Though he only attempted one pass against Picayune, he completed it for 12 yards and rushed three times for 27 yards to get his team out of third down jams.

Now the swarm, which hasn’t lost a home game since the 23-14 loss to Purvis on Oct. 23, 2015, hosts Pearl River Central Friday. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. The Hornets hold a 37-20 overall record against the Blue Devils.