Poplarville’s offense scored on all five first half possessions to defeat Pass Christian 63-21 in round one of the 4A state playoffs on Friday.
The Hornets (9-1) will host Quitman in second-round action next week.
Poplarville’s offense scored 35 first-half points to take a 35-0 lead into halftime.
“We really have a very confident ball club right now,” said Hornets coach Jay Beech. “We have a lot of faith in our offensive line. And our running backs did a good job of blocking for each other. They are really unselfish players.”
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Jessie Pernell started the first half scoring with an 8-yard carry for the score at the 7:04 mark of the first quarter. Austin Bolton added the second score on a 1-yard carry following a 21-yard carry on the play before that.
Pernell scored from 28 yards out to give the Hornets a 21-0 lead with 11:05 left before halftime.
Pass Christian (5-6) fumbled on their next possession, and the Hornets wasted little time to put the game out of reach as Pernell’s 5-yard TD run made it 28-0.
The Hornets final score of the first half was a 1-yard carry by Peytan Graham to cap a 12-play 66-yard drive.
Pass Christian started the second half with an onside kick, which Poplarville recovered. The Hornets made quick work of the short field as Bolton scored on a 9-yard carry for a 42-0 lead.
Pass Christian answered with a 66-yard V.J. Swanier TD run, getting within 42-7. The Pirates recovered the onside kick, and they scored on a 15-yard TD pass from Dustin Allison to Jackson Hall. Poplarville led 42-14 with 7:29 left in the third quarter.
Antonio Barnes connected with Tyler Holston for a 38-yard score for a 49-14 lead.
Aritaeus Johnson intercepted Allison on the Pirates’ next possession.
The Hornets capitalized. A 56-yard Ross Barnett TD run boosted the Hornets’ lead to 56-14 early in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Chambliss’ interception set up Roosevelt Raine’s 15-yard TD run late in the game.
Swanier’s 22-yard TD run closed out the game’s scoring.
Bolton led all rushers with 124 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Pernell added for 116 yards and three touchdowns.
Swanier led the Pirates with 145 rushing yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns.
“We got overwhelmed early,” said Pirates’ coach Casey Whittman. “We got off to a slow start, and Poplarville took advantage of it. We really dug ourselves a hole, and sometimes these things kind of build on themselves. Our kids came out in the second half and they fought. That’s all we can ask of them. Poplarville is a fine football team. I think they’re the best team we’ve played all year.”