Poplarville and East Central face off in battle of unbeatens

Published 7:00 am Thursday, November 23, 2017

POPLARVILLE — Poplarville High School will host East Central High School Friday for the South State Championship.

Both teams come into the game unbeaten and the winner will advance to the Class 4A state championship game, which will be played next week at Ole Miss.

After only scoring seven points in the first half, a 26-point performance in the second half helped the Hornets defeat Purvis 33-12 in its Class 4A third round matchup.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Poplarville (13-0) quarterback Antonio Barnes went 1-for-4 for 62 yards. Austin Bolton caught the pass thrown by Barnes and was one tackle away from taking it all the way to end zone.

On the ground, Bolton rushed for 151 yards on 19 carries and Cory Knight ran for 121 yards on 19 carries.

Peytan Graham ran for two scores on three carries, Tyson Holston ran for 41 yards and one touchdown and Barnes rushed four times for 41 yards.

D.J. Travis and Canaan Ray had one interception each for the Hornets.

Meanwhile, East Central defeated South Pike High School 70-32 in its third round matchup of the Class 4A state playoffs.

So far in its first three-playoff matchups, East Central (12-0) has outscored its opponents 185-to-51. In order to defeat Poplarville, East Central will rely on its running game, which has ran for 4,380 yards and 69 touchdowns this season.

East Central is led by running back Tony Brown, rushing for 2,376 yards and 42 touchdowns this season. Against Poplarville, East Central will also look to contributions from Ryan Evans, rushing for 552 yards and six touchdowns this season and Dylan Grinsteinner, who has rushed for 411 yards and seven touchdowns.

Brad Cumbest is East Central’s favorite receiver, accounting for 716 yards and nine touchdowns on 33 receptions this season.

One of the leaders of East Central’s defense this year include Avery White, coming away with 11 sacks in 12 games. Trenton Baldock lead East Central’s secondary with six interceptions and Andrew Seward accounting for five.

“They’re a well coached team and it’s going to be a battle,” Poplarville Head Coach Jay Beech said last Friday. “

The matchup between Poplarville and East Central will kickoff at 7 p.m.