Dreams of a Class 4A State Championship were washed away on Saturday for Poplarville.
In a cold, driving rainstorm at Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium, the Commodores jumped out to a 27-0 lead and never looked back on the way to a 27-12 victory.
The Hornets (11-2) outgained the Commodores 343-202 and had 20 first downs, to their 10. The difference in the game: mistakes. Lafayette made the Hornets pay for four turnovers.
“We got into a hole there in the first half and I knew that it was going to be tough to get out of it,” Hornets coach Jay Beech said. “Turnovers in the first half really created that hole for us.”
The Commordores took the early advantage out of the gates. A deep 77-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Williams came on the Commodores’ third play of the game. Jamarcus Quarles extended the lead to 14-0, rumbling for a 20-yard run at the beginning of the second quarter.
“There’s nothing like making plays in my future home,” said Williams, a MSU commitment.
After Lafayette had a punt return called back in the final minute, Poplarville forced and recovered a fumble inside the Commodores’ 40 yard line. The momentum was short-lived. A hook and ladder play went wrong for the Hornets. Brandon Turnage took the toss and ran 65 yards for a score with 17 seconds left before halftime. The Hornets trailed 20-0 at halftime.
“It didn’t do us in, but it put us in a big hole,” Beech said. “We’ve score on it before but it gets bobbled and we had a late pitch. It was bad.”
Lafayette put the game away with Jamie Shaw’s 24-yard run midway through the third to take a 27-0 advantage after three quarters.
The Hornets got touchdown runs from Jesse Pernell and Paytan Graham on consecutive possession, getting within 27-12 but the damage was done.
Pernell left it all on the field in his final game at Poplarville with 26 carries for 216 yards. The Hornets had 89 yards rushing in the first half but finished with 322 behind a strong second half.
“It was heart, character and courage that (Pernell) displayed all season long,” Beech said. “I’m really proud of him.”
Beech won’t forget Poplarville’s first trip to the state title game.
“It was a great experience for all of us,” Beech said. “Obviously, Poplarville has never been in this spot before and it was a great experience. It will be something our young kids can want to get back to.”