A power outage at Joe Barlow Stadium meant the homeside lights and scoreboard were out for most of the first half Friday in St. Martin’s season-opener against Poplarville.
The power outage, however, did not seem to greatly affect Yellow Jackets quarterback Wayne Overman and receiver Kalem Reddix. The duo connected six times on the night for 242 yards and three touchdowns as St. Martin won the opener 35-14.
Overman and Reddix connected on touchdown throws of 57, 22 and 85 yards. Additionally, a 36-yard connection late in the first quarter led to Overman’s 1-yard plunge for the Yellow Jackets first touchdown of the night.
In the fourth quarter, following two 5-yard penalties and an 8-yard loss on a sack, Overman hit Reddix on a 27-yard throw to keep the drive alive before Donté Starks put the exclamation point on the win with a 49-yard scoring run.
“I thought they played great,” Yellow Jackets coach Eddie Wayne Whitehead said.
In the second quarter, with his team down 14-7, Whitehead gambled and went for a first down on fourth-and-2 at his own 43. Overman looked over and noticed the cornerback covering Reddix was playing back. Reddix also noted the cornerback playing off.
“We had good communication tonight,” Reddix said.
Reddix drove the defensive back down the field, turning at 10 yards.
“I hit him with the pass and he made the guy miss,” Overman said.
“He gave me too much space,” Reddix said.
Overman followed the long completion by finding Quan Walley for the 2-point conversion giving the Yellow Jackets their first lead, 15-14, and St. Martin would not look back.
St. Martin started the game by spotting Poplarville a 14-0 lead as the Hornets scored on their first two possessions. On their opening drive, Jesse Pernell set up his 1-yard plunge for the game’s first score with a 65 yard jaunt. The second drive ended with Antonio Barnes hitting Austin Bolton for a 25-yard scoring play.
Following the Yellow Jackets first score, a 1-yard Overnman plunge that cut the Hornets lead to 14-7, the Hornets marched from their 28 to the St. Martin 12 on 13 plays before ending the drive with a fumble. Poplarville would not threaten again until the fourth quarter when Chris Fowler sprinted 65 yards to the St. Martin 12. That drive, though, would end on downs when Poplarville mishandled the snap on fourth down and two from the 4.
“It’s a good way to start the season with a win,” Whitehead said. “But we didn’t play well at times.”
Whitehead told his team they would have to face adversity at some point in the season, but he didn’t think it would be so soon as the Yellow Jackets quickly found themselves down 14-0 early.
“We started out slow,” Overman said. “But it is a good team win.”
Overman finished with 362 yards passing on 16-of-25 passing. He also connected three times with Ham McGee for 62 yards.
St. Martin’s running game started in low gear, gaining just 13 yards in the first half. In the second half, though, McGee had a 50 yard run to set up the Yellow Jackets’ first score of the second half, a 22-yard Overman to Reddix connection, and Starks ran for 49 yards in the fourth quarter for St. Martin’s last score of the game.
McGee finished with 73 yards on five carries to account for 135 total yards. Starks added 61 yards on three carries as St. Martin ran for 137 yards on only 19 carries.
“We have a chance to have a really good season,” said Whitehead. “We have a few things to clean up.”
Pernell finished with 122 yards on 16 carries. He also added a reception for 37 yards.
Using a stable of nine running backs, Poplarville gained 295 yards on 53 carries and gained 17 first downs, but could not push the ball across the endzone after the first quarter.