High School Sports

Poplarville steamrolls Purvis to clinch second straight 4A South State Championship trip

Poplarville running back Austin Bolton ran for 171 yards in the Hornets’ 33-12 win over Purvis in the 4A state quarterfinals.
Poplarville running back Austin Bolton ran for 171 yards in the Hornets’ 33-12 win over Purvis in the 4A state quarterfinals. Matt Bush

The score wasn’t as lopsided as the Oct. 20 contest in Poplarville, when the Hornets toppled the Purvis Tornadoes 69-34 by piling up 452 yards rushing. Though, the end result was the same.

Poplarville put two running backs in the 100-yard club Friday night, piling up 415 yards on the ground to defeat Purvis 33-12 in the third round of the state Class 4A playoffs.

For the Hornets (13-0), Austin Bolton dominated the speedy outside running game by carrying the ball 24 times for 171 yards. Cory Knight made the hits up the middle, from tackle to tackle, racking up 136 yards and a touchdown on 18 totes.

Both coaches praised Bolton’s breakaway speed, with a 62-yard pass reception that led to a touchdown and his outside bursts.

“They have a lot of speed and No. 5 (Bolton) is exceptional at finding the crack and cutting it back,” Purvis coach Perry Wheat said. “He is really a good back.”

“He’s a workhorse,” Poplarville coach Jay Beech said after the game. “We’re going to give it to him and watch him make something happen.”

Leading only 7-0 at halftime, Poplarville coach Jay Beech worried about the numbing effect that the penalties had played on first-half drives.

“I told them I thought we could drive the ball and score on them if we didn’t have any penalties,” he said. “If we had a 5-yard penalty, I thought it would be too much to overcome as well as Purvis was playing. Most of the drives that we were stopped on were because of penalties. They weren’t big penalties. When you’re playing a motivated team in the third round, you can’t make mistakes.”

Wheat praised his team’s performance despite the season-ending loss to finish with a 6-7 record.

“I’m proud of the way our kids played,” he said. “They played hard and they went into this game to win the game. That’s what we asked them to do and we give Poplarville credit because they’ve got a good, undefeated football team.”

Wheat told his players at halftime to stay with the game plan.

“We felt like we left some plays out there on offense in the first half,” he said. “They are the kind of defense where you don’t make anything, but you’ve got a chance to make some big plays.

“You have to go down the field on them. When we went down the field, we had some bad things happen to us. We didn’t think we executed the way we should have. In the first half, we did pretty good, but in the end it just wasn’t enough.”

John Bolton led all Purvis rushers with 91 yards on 15 carries. C.J. Bolar led all receivers with four catches for 88 yards.