By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
On Friday night, the Poplarville Hornets twice pulled to within a touchdown of locking up the score with the Greene County Wildcats, and in the first period did so, 7-to-7, but in the late third and fourth periods, the Wildcats from Leakesville gradually pulled away from the Hornets in a crucial district clash, 56-28, before a Homecoming crowd.
The loss left the Hornets 2-5 overall and 0-2 in Region 8-4A competition, as the Hornets prepare to meet St. Stanislaus on Friday.
The win left Greene County 4-3 overall and 1-1 in district play.
Said Hornet head coach Chris Teal, “We will have to go back to the drawing boards. We had too many penalties and made too many mistakes. We got close there two times, and tied it up once, but were not able to close. The kids played hard.”
Said Wildcat head coach Johnny Ainesworth, “The game was much tougher and closer than the final score showed. It was close most of the game.”
After the 7-7 tie in the first period, the Hornets twice pulled within 7 points of locking up the score again, but the Wildcats bounced right back and tacked on more scoring to gradually widen the deficit.
Hornet back Rojae Raine plunged five yards to make it 21-14 with only 51 seconds left in the first-half, leaving the Hornets trailing by only 7 points.
But on the ensuing kick-off, Wildcat running back Tyler McCann turned on the after-burners and raced 85 yards straight up the middle of the field to paydirt to widen the deficit, making it 28-14, Wildcats, at the half-time break.
And with 2:16 remaining in the third, Hornet defensive back and QB Drake Hodges picked off Wildcat QB Terrence Wood’s pass on the Wildcat 15 and raced into the end zone to make it 34-28, closing within 7 points of the Wildcats again.
Hodges had locked the game up 7 to 7 in the first period on a 25-yard toss to Austin Smith.
After closing 35 to 28, the Hornets tried an on-side kick to get the ball back and tie up the game, but a Wildcat pounced on the bouncing ball on the 50. Seven plays later, after a crucial pass interference call went against the Hornets, McCann scored on a 13-yard dash to give the Wildcats a two-touchdown lead of 42-28 with 4 seconds left in third-period play. McCann was the spark plug for the Wildcats, gaining 175 yards rushing and scoring three touchdowns.
Raine paced the Hornets with 15 carries for 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Hodges was 8 of 12 for 115 yards passing and connected on one pass for a touchdown and scored the other TD on the interception. Wildcat defenders picked off two of Hodges’ passes.
The Wildcats drew first blood on a 55-yard drive, capped by a 20-yard TD dash by back Lamarcus Franks only two minutes into the game.
Next the Hornets put together an amazing drive, taking 20 plays to cover 80 yards and burning up all but the remaining 31 seconds of the first period. The 80-yard drive was capped by a 25-yard pass from Hodges to Austin Smith for the TD to tie the game 7-7. The drive took up 10 minutes of the first period, and the Hornets converted two fourth down situations to keep it alive and tie the game.
Next the Wildcats covered 50 yards in five plays, capped by a 15-yard dash by McCann a minute into the second period, making it 14-7, and six minutes later Wood sneaked in from the one to widen the margin to 21-7.
Raine put the score at 21-14 on a seven-yard dash and McCann reciprocated with his 85-yard TD kick-off return.
At the half-time break it was 28-14, Wildcats.
In the second half, the Hornets tacked on two but the Wildcats added four TDs to round out the scoring.
Wood connected with Luke Hicks for a pass-play covering 39 yards with 7:23 left in the third period, and Raine added his second TD of the night on a 23-yard dash, making it 35-21 with 5:38 left in the third period.
Next Hodges intercepted Wood’s pass and ran it in to make it 35-28. Then Wood, with only 4 seconds left in the third period, hit Dalon Woullard, this time for 13 yards and a TD, to make it 42-28.
The Wildcats rounded out the scoring in the fourth on a 34-yard TD run by McCann, his third of the night, and a one-yard plunge by Woullard, his second TD.
Hornet kicker Hayden Pounds was perfect on his extra points, and so was Wildcat Luke Hicks.