Deep playoff run ends with a tough loss in 4A state title game
Poplarville had a rough start to the season losing four of its first five games.
However the Hornets turned it around and were especially dominant in district play.
A ground and pound offensive attack along with a stout defense saw the Hornets advance all the way to the 4A state title game.
The Hornets opened the season with a close 21-14 loss to the Laurel Golden Tornadoes on Aug. 23.
Following the tight loss, Poplarville had a match up with county rival Pearl River Central and won the game with a 42-17 score.
The next three weeks were tough for the Hornets as they took on Mandeville, D’Iberville and Picayune.
A home game against Mandeville saw the offense put up a lot of points, but the Hornets’ defense struggled getting stops en route to a 65-35 loss.
Sept. 13 the Hornets took on the D’Iberville Warriors in a game where the Hornets amassed 297 rushing yards, but still fell to the Warriors 42-22.
Then came a rivalry game against Picayune away from home that the Maroon Tide won 53-15.
After the loss to Picayune the Hornets, turned it up a notch and started punishing their opponents.
Poplarville took on Forrest County Agricultural on Oct. 4 and crushed the Aggies 44-0.
The following week was the first of back to back away games as Poplarville traveled to Stone.
The Tomcats were no match for the Hornets, Poplarville dominated the game, beating Stone 41-14.
A brutal defeat of Purvis 61-0 was followed by a close loss to Greene County in a game that determined playoff seeding.
Poplarville lost to the Wildcats 25-7, but ended the season on a high note the following week, beating Sumrall 35-0.
The game against Sumrall was the last of the regular season and Poplarville’s first round opponent in the playoffs was St. Stanislaus.
The Rock-a-Chaws couldn’t find any rhythm offensively against Poplarville’s smothering defense and the Hornets won 35-14 to advance.
Next up was a match up against North Pike on Sept. 15.
It was an away game for the Hornets, but the setting didn’t matter as Poplarville came out with a close 23-20 victory.
Then came a match up against, South Pike who had been dynamic offensively all season.
Poplarville held the Eagles to just 20 points and moved the ball well on the ground as the team won with a final score of 31-20.
The win against South Pike meant Poplarville advanced to the South State Championship and took on Lawrence County for a shot to compete in the 4A state title.
Lawrence County started strong, but Poplarville pulled away in the second half to win 38-14, punching its ticket to the state final.
On Dec. 7 Poplarville took on the Corinth Warriors for a chance to make up for last year’s loss in the state title game.
The Warriors lost only one game heading into the championship, dominating teams offensively all season.
Those trends continued when the two teams met as Corinth used big plays offensively to establish a 34-7 lead at halftime.
Poplarville didn’t give up, but the Hornets couldn’t complete a comeback and ended up losing 55-21.
Following the game against Corinth Head Coach Jay Beech said no matter the score, his team played with heart and passion.
“I’m so proud of them. They were down 34-7 at the half and I think they played harder in the second half than they did in the first,” Beech said.
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