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Hornets sting Bobcats

ByNick Ray

Picayune Item

POPLARVILLE – Two Poplarville touchdowns in the fourth quarter changed a close game into a 12-point victory as the Hornets kept its undefeated district record intact Friday night with a 26-14 score over the Sumrall Bobcats.

Poplarville (8-1, 4-0 in district play) nursed a 14-7 lead through three quarters against a stingy Bobcat defense that prevented the margin from being extended further. The game remained in doubt after the Hornets lead was cut to six points late in the second half before an insurance score with less than two minutes to go secured the victory.

Scoring began on the first drive of the night as Poplarville received the opening kickoff and methodically moved down the field for the game’s first score. The Hornets ran a steady stream of rushing plays, 14 in all, during a 62-yard march to the endzone. The drive melted almost eight minutes off the clock and culminated with a fourth and goal touchdown with a quarterback keeper by Antonio Barnes from nine yards out to give Poplarville its first score. Ethan Spiers’ point-after-touchdown attempt was good, and the Hornets led 7-0 with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter.

Both teams were unable to score additional points in the first quarter and traded punts before Sumrall tied the game when quarterback Janis Jackson connected with receiver Zane Garrity for a 22-yard touchdown reception. The game was even at 7-7 at the 10:27 mark of the second quarter.

Poplarville responded with a drive that stalled at the Sumrall 5-yard line. On fourth down, the Hornets lined up to kick a 22-yard field goal by Spiers that was successful, however, Sumrall was penalized on the play, which moved the ball to the three-yard line. The Hornets chose to try for the touchdown and fell short at the two-yard line and turned the ball over on downs to the Bobcats at the 7:28 mark of the second quarter.

The Bobcats were unable to move the ball on its next possession and punted the ball back to the Hornets, setting the home team up at the Sumrall 42-yard line. The Hornets took advantage of the field position and scored its second touchdown of the game. Eight plays later Barnes scored his second fourth and goal touchdown from less than a yard out to give the Hornets the lead again. Spiers’ PAT was good, and Poplarville led 14-7 with 2:05 remaining in the first half.

Sumrall raced down the field to score before halftime and reached the Poplarville nine-yard line. The Hornets’ defense stung the Bobcats on three consecutive plays with losses and penalties that forced a fourth down and goal at the 34-yard line. On the final play of the half a pass by Jackson was intercepted by the Hornets’ Canaan Ray to keep the score 14-7.

Neither team was able to produce points in the third quarter as the Hornets began a scoring drive that culminated in points in the final frame. From the Poplarville 41, the Hornets marched down the field on 12 plays to produce its third touchdown of the evening. The drive was capped on a four-yard touchdown rush by senior running back Amahd Bolton. Spiers’ PAT was blocked as Poplarville extended the margin to 20-7 with 8:21 remaining in regulation.

Sumrall responded on its next possession in six plays to the end zone. On a first-and-10 from the Sumrall 47-line, Jackson exploded through the line on a quarterback keeper for a 53 yard touchdown to cut the lead to 20-14 with 5:40 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Six plays later, Poplarville’s Casin Sones finished the evening’s scoring on 17-yard gallop to the end zone. Fullback Cory Knight’s two-point play attempt fell short with 1:58 remaining. Poplarville went on to claim a 26-14 victory.