By Joseph W. Gex, II
The Picayune Item
Bay St. Louis —
The Poplarville Hornets (3-5, 1-2) spotted the St. Stanislaus Rock-a-chaws (0-7, 0-2) 18 points by the 8:52 mark of the first quarter in their track meet on the gridiron Friday night. However, the Hornets capitalized on four Rock turnovers in the second half to squeak out an 82-80 win at the Brother Philip Memorial Athletic Complex.
The points scored by both teams combined set a new state record. The previous record was set in 2000 when Ruleville defeated Gentry 74-71 for a total of 145 points.
Both teams also recorded over w
1,700 yards of total offense as Poplarville racked up 836 and SSC tallied 907 total yards.
Poplarville head coach Chris Teal commented, "Tonight, this was two good football teams going at it. I have never seen anything like this. It was game that you just had to keep playing and I am proud of our guys for their effort."
It was a wild first half as there were 19 possessions in the first half and touchdowns were scored on 16 of them. Each team was stopped once on fumbles and the Hornets ran just one play on the final possession of the half to run the clock out.
The Rocks opened the game on offense and eight plays into the game they found the endzone. SSC quarterback Tyler Allen found Brennan Bradley for a 28-yard strike. The PAT missed leaving the score 6-0.
The Rocks recovered the onsides attempt on the ensuing kickoff at the Poplarville 37 yardline.
In three plays the Rocks scored when Cody Logan ripped off a 20-yard scoring run with 9:59 left in the first quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed keeping the score 12-0.
The Rocks again recovered the onsides kick at midfield. Six plays later, Allen connected with Chase Rhodes for a nine-yard scoring toss with 8:52 left to play in the first quarter. The two-point conversion failed leaving the score 18-0
The Hornets finally held onto the squib kick and quickly found the endzone on the ensuing possession. It took Poplarville just four plays to strike as Jiquan James scored from 24 yards out with 7:20 left in the first quarter. Hayden Pounds connected on the PAT to cut the lead to 18-7.
The Rocks wasted little time getting back on the scoreboard following the kickoff. Seven plays later, Allen found Logan for a 19-yard scoring strike with 5:24 left in the opening quarter. Allen hooked up with Bradley for a two-point conversion to make the score 26-7.
The Hornets stepped it up on the ensuing drive as it took just two plays to light the scoreboard.
After a 23-yard gain by Rojae Raine, Malik Lucas ripped off a 31-yard scoring run with 4:45 left in the first quarter. Pounds' PAT was good making the score 26-14.
The track meet continued as it took SSC eight plays to find the endzone on the ensuing drive. Joe Guillot scored on a one-yard plunge with 2:52 left in the opening quarter. The two-point conversion failed leaving the tally 32-14.
The Hornets answered in just one play following the 43-yaard return by Raine to the Rock 36 yardline.
James ripped the turf for the final 36 yards on the first play with 2:29 left in the first quarter. Pounds converted on the PAT to push the score to 32-21.
The Hornets followed the Rocks' path and converted on an onsides attempt on the ensuing kickoff. The Hornets needed just five plays to move from the Rock 41 yardline. James scored from six yards out with 11:55 left in the first half. Pounds nailed the PAT to make score 32-28.
The Rocks answered in just three plays on the ensuing drive as Denzel Walker exploded for a 52-yard scoring run with 11:18 left in the half. Allen connected with Logan for a two-point conversion to push the score to 40-28.
And, as quickly as the Rocks scored the Hornets did it in two plays. Raine ripped off a 30-yard scoring run with 10:33 left in the half after a 36-yard aerial from Drake Hodges to Lucas. Pounds' PAT was good making the score 40-35.
The Rocks made their ensuing drive last a little longer than usual as it took eight plays to change the scoreboard. Allen connected with Chase Zimmerman for a 21-yard score with 8:54 left in the first half. The two-point conversion failed leaving the score 46-35.
The Rock defense got a rare stop on the ensuing Poplarville drive. The loose ball was recovered by Ryan Gibson at the Rock 37 yardline.
The Rocks stretched their drive even longer this time around to 10 plays. The drive was capped when Allen called his own number and scored from two yards out with 4:59 left in the half. The two-point conversion failed leaving the score 52-35.
The Hornets got back on a scoring streak with thei next possession and needed just five plays to find the endzone. Hodges hooked up with Austin Smith for a 46-yard scoring aerial with 2:28 left in the half. Pounds' PAT was good making the score 52-41.
The Rocks were on their way to the endzone on a 43-yard run by Logan when he was stripped of the ball just before the goal line. The Hornets pounced on the loose ball to thwart the score.
After taking over at their own 20 yardline, the Hornets scored on a 45-yard scoring toss from Hodges to Lucas with just 23 seconds left before halftime. Pounds converted on the PAT to cut the lead to 52-49.
However, the first half was not over and the Rocks answered on the ensuing kickoff. Wil Green fielded the kick at his own 33 yardline and 67 yards later the score changed again. Allen found Logan for the two-point conversion to make the score 60-49 at intermission.
The second half was shaping up to be a mirror image of the first half as Poplarville scored on the fifth play of the opening series. James scored on an 18-yard run with 10:00 left in the third quarter. Pounds was true on the PAT to push the score to 60-56.
However, on the ensuing Rock drive, SSC fumbled on the third play from scrimmage and JJ Welch recovered for the Hornets.. It would be the first of four crucial turnovers for SSC in the second half.
The Hornets capitalized on the turnover as Lucas ripped off an eight-yard scoring run with DHDC left in the third quarter. Pounds missed on the PAT leaving the score 62-60.
Again, on the third play from scrimmage the Rocks fumbled the ball away at the Hornet 36 yardline. Anthony Martin picked up the loose ball.
The Hornets continued to capitalize on the Rocks' mistakes as Raine scored on a 31-yard run with 2:53 left in the third quarter. Pounds nailed the PAT to make the score 69-60.
The Rocks answered on their ensuing possession as Allen found Bradley for a 30-yard scoring strike with 1:46 left in the third quarter. The two-point conversion failed leaving the score 69-66.
In a freak series for this game, the Hornets were forced to make the game's only punt.
The Rocks took over a their own 45 yardline but fumbled away on the third play from scrimmage for the third time in the half.
The Hornets put together an extended 10-play drive to capitalize on the turnover. James scored his fifth touchdown in the game on a 30-yard run with 5:42 left in the game. Pounds converted on the PAT to make the score 76-66.
The Rocks suffered their fourth turnover of the second half on the first play of their ensuing possession. The Rocks were intercepted by Martin near midfield.
And, again, the Hornets capitalized. Keith Dotson scored on a 12-yard run with 4:02 left in the game. Zach Ladner broke through the line to block Pounds' PAT to leave the score 82-66.
The only thing was SSC was not finished scoring, yet.
The Rocks answered in two plays with a 27-yard scoring aerial from Allen to Bradley with 3:34 left in the game. The score was set up by a 20-yard toss to Rhodes. The two-point conversion failed leaving the score 82-72.
The Hornets put the ball on the turf on their third play from scrimmage on the ensuig possession and Jordan Bradford recovered for SSC.
Two plays later, Allen found Bradley for a 68-yard scoring toss with 2:10 left in the game. Walker ran the ball in for the two-point conversion to make the score 82-80.
The Rocks tried an onsides kick but were not able to convert allowing the Hornets to run out the clock on perhaps the most indescribable but amazing ever played in Mississippi.
In the game, Hodges was 5-for5 passing for 142 yards and two touchdowns while James had 401 yards rushing on 37 carries and five touchdowns. Lucas had nine carries for 60 yards and two scores with three receptions for 96 yards and a score. Raine added 172 yards on 16 carries and two scores. Austim Smith had two passes for 50 yards and a score.
For SSC, the Rocks rushed for 470 yards and threw for 437 yards. Allen was 23-for-34 passing and seven touchdowns. Bradley caught eight passes for 219 yards and four scores. Rhodes had seven receptions for 104 yards and a score. Walker led the Rocks on the ground with 16 carries for 242 yards and a score while Logan added 139 yards on 12 carries. Allen also rushed nine times for 70 yards and a score.
The Hornets now have two games to win one and earn a shot at the Class 4A state playoffs. Poplarville will host Bay High this Friday night while the Rocks travel to Forrest County AHS. Game time is set for 7pm.