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Poplarville falls to Louisville in hard fought state championship game

The season ended in heartbreak for the Poplarville Hornets who took on a talented Louisville team and lost on a last second touchdown by the Wildcats in Saturday’s 4A state championship game.

Poplarville had been dominant leading up to the championship, but fell in a hard fought game 15-14.

Poplarville started off on the right foot after receiving the opening kickoff.

The Hornets drove 82-yards and took nearly seven minutes off the clock before running back Avan Jarvis shoved his way into the end zone from 1-yard out.

Kicker Zach Carpenter came on for the extra point and split the uprights to give the Hornets an early 7-0 lead.

On the following possession, Louisville started its drive on its own 20-yard line.

The Wildcats kept the ball for over 5 minutes and drove 80-yards down the field before quarterback Jace Hudspeth took a quarterback sneak into the end zone from 1-yard out.

Brayam Munoz scored the extra point, tying the game at 7-7 with 11:57 left in the second quarter.

Poplarville responded quickly.

The second play of Poplarville’s next drive saw running back Greg Swann break through the line of scrimmage and sprint 62-yards to pay dirt.

Carpenter’s PAT was good, and the lead was 14-7 in Poplarville’s favor with 10:25 left in the first half.

A first half defensive master class by the Hornets saw Louisville turn the ball over on downs multiple times, and neither team could get much going offensively until the end of the second quarter.

Louisville was driving late in the first half, and were inside the Poplarville 10-yard line with just seven seconds to spare.

But Hudspeth’s pass to the end zone fell incomplete as time expired, which left Poplarville in the lead 14-7 heading into halftime.

The Hornets defense forced another turnover on downs and a punt to start the third quarter as the offense tried to find some rhythm.

Poplarville was able to put together a drive to start the fourth quarter, reaching the red zone with just over six minutes left in the game.

However, the Hornets couldn’t convert on a fourth and four, so the ball went back to Louisville.

The Wildcats had the ball on their own 18-yard line and 6:28 left in the game to find the back of the end zone.

Louisville converted several fourth downs and scored on a 24-yard pass from Hudspeth to wide receiver Jarvis Rush.

The Wildcats went for the two point conversion, and running back Jaden Triplett found the back of the end zone to give Louisville a 15-14 lead with 36 seconds left in the game.

Poplarville got the ball back on its own 31-yard line, but an interception gave the ball back to Louisville who ran out the clock and won the game.

After the game, junior defensive end Khalid Moore said he’ll use the loss as motivation heading into this offseason.

“It’s going to make me work harder, make me angrier and make me want to get back on this field again, back at this place. I’ll be back here again, and I promise you, I’m not going out sad,” Moore said.

Head Coach Jay Beech said the loss is tough to swallow, especially given how well his team played.

“There’s nothing to say to those guys that’ll make them feel better. It sucks and that’s all there is to it. Our defense played great, but we made them stay on the field too long. They held as long as they could. It wasn’t our defense, it was our offense that couldn’t put together drives in the second half,” Beech said.