Bolton powers undefeated Hornets past Sumrall

Published 11:21 pm Friday, October 13, 2017

By Stan Caldwell

Special to the Picayune Item

SUMRALL – Another game, another big night for Austin Bolton.

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Poplarville High’s senior standout running back recorded his eighth 100-yard game of the season, leading the Hornets to a 46-0 victory over Sumrall Friday night in Region 7-4A action at Lions Field.

Poplarville (8-0 overall, 3-0 region) did nothing to hurt its unanimous No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Class 4A poll (No. 7 Overall), and qualified for the 4A playoffs. Sumrall dropped to 5-4 and 1-2.

“Both sides of the ball played well,” said Poplarville coach Jay Beech.

“I think we blocked well for (Bolton), but he did a lot of it on his own too. Defensively, we did a great job against a talented offensive team.”

The first time Bolton touched the ball, he ran for a pedestrian 6 yards. But the second and third time was when he showed off his skills.

From the Sumrall 41-yard-line on the Hornets’ first possession, Bolton took a handoff, burst through a hole over right guard, juked his way past two would-be tacklers then cut back up the middle all the way to the end zone.

After the Hornets smothered Sumrall’s next possession, Poplarville took over at their own 10, and on the second play of the drive, on second-and-10, Bolton blew over left guard into the secondary and all the way for a 90-yard scoring run.

“My o-line knew where I was going to go,” said Bolton, who finished with 183 yards on just eight carries.

“I just went behind them. I just look to get past the first line (of defense); if I can get behind that first line, they can’t catch me.”

Defensively, the Hornet simply smothered the Bobcats. Sumrall never got closer than the Poplarville 39 and ran just six plays from Hornet territory. The Bobcats just 93 yards of offense for the game.

“I thought the defense played pretty close to its potential tonight,” said Hornet senior linebacker Peyton Graham. “We knew they had an athletic receiver out there, but we just concentrated on stopping the run and tried to take them out of their game.

“When you see all 11 players swarming to the ball like we did tonight, that’s when we’re at our best.”

Poplarville added a 49-yard touchdown run by Cory Knight, then made it 26-0 at halftime on a 26-yard pass from Antonio Barnes to Tyson Holston.

Barnes was 5 for 5 passing for 61 yards, just enough to keep the Bobcats from packing the box to stop the run.

“We’re starting to really have a lot of confidence in (Barnes),” said Beech.

“He made some nice throws and made good decisions. We want to get better and more productive with the passing game, and I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”

In all, Poplarville racked up 544 yards of offense, including 483 on the ground. Holston had a 44-yard touchdown run, and Bolton capped his night with a 34-yard TD run.

Sophomore Chase Shears ran for 116 yards in second-half mop-up duty, including a 49-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.

Poplarville will return home next week to take on the Purvis Tornadoes.