Hornets clinch division title with smashing win

Published 11:16 pm Friday, October 20, 2017

By Stan Caldwell

Special to the  Item

POPLARVILLE – Here’s a scary thought for teams with championship aspirations in Class 4A.

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Poplarville High players say the Hornets still hasn’t played to their potential.

If that is the case, then look out. Poplarville ran roughshod over Purvis Friday night at the Hornets’ Nest 69-32, clinching a second consecutive title in Region 7-4A.

Poplarville (9-0 overall, 4-0 region), the top-ranked team in 4A in the Associated Press poll (No. 6 Overall) will host the first round of the 4A playoffs on Nov. 3 against the fourth seed from Region 5-4A. Purvis dropped to 4-5 and 2-2.

“I don’t think we have,” said junior linebacker Ross Barnett, when asked if the Hornets had played their best football yet this season.

“Some games our offense may play its best game. Other games, the defense may play its best. But offense and defense together; I don’t think we’ve played as well as we can.”

Offensively, it was more of the same for the Hornets. Senior Austin Bolton had his usual 100-yard night, running 19 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns.

But it was the complementary backs who did much of the damage against the Tornadoes. The Hornets ran the ball 55 times for 430 yardds rushing, including 106 yards and three scores by sophomore Cory Knight.

“We’re loaded in the backfield,” said Poplarville Jay Beech. “We’ve got a lot of kids back there who can play. Even our second-team guys run the ball well. And when you run the Wing-T offense, you need a lot of backs.”

Purvis was able to gash the Hornets for several big plays that kept the Tornadoes in the game through the first half, but the second half was a much different story.

A 78-yard touchdown run by John Bolton early in the third quarter and a 97-yard pass from Ty Howell to C.J. Bolar long after the issue was settled provided almost all of Purvis’ second-half offense.

“We started out slow in the first half, so we knew at halftime that we had to step up,” said senior defensive end Roosevelt Raine, who recovered a fumble and had an interception.

“At halftime, there were smiles in the locker room. We knew we left some plays on the field that we should have taken advantage of. The second half, we came out and handled our business.”

Poplarville led 35-20 at halftime on runs of 3 and 33 yards by Bolton, who also recovered a Hornet fumble the end zone, Knight =had 2-yard touchdown run and Tyson Holston had an 8-yard TD run. Bolton opened the second-half scoring with a 5-yard run, then Holston scored on runs of 9 and 7 yards. Knight had a 9-yard touchdown run and backup fullback Zac Owen closed out the scoring for Poplarville on a 1-yard run late in the game.

Poplarville will complete its regular season next week, as the Hornets travel to Monticello to face Lawrence County.