PASS CHRISTIAN – The Poplarville Hornets (5-2, 1-0) held off a late Pass Christian (5-2, 0-1) to open district play with a 31-23 win on the road on Thursday.
“We just battled and battled and battled,” said Poplarville coach Jay Beech. “Their defense hadn’t given up many points all season. They took it to us in the second half. We found a way to score right there at the end.
“That’s a really good team,” said Beech. “We’re glad to get out of here with a win.”
The Hornets blocked a PAT kick that would have tied the game at 24 with 2:30 remaining in the game, and their offense responded with a 9-play drive, capped by a 43-yard Tylan Keys’ scoring run to close out the game’s scoring.
But the Pirates were not done. The Hornets were penalized when their ensuing kickoff sailed out of bounds, so the Pirates started at their own 44-yard line. They got chunks of yardage on pass plays of 16 and 24 yards to Micah McKay and Terry Patton, respectively, advancing the ball all the way to the Poplarville 5 yard line. But that was as far as they would get as they would get as the game ended on three consecutive incomplete passes.
It was a classic high school football game as both teams appeared to put it all on the line. Poplarville set the tone early taking a chance, going for it on fourth-and-2 at their own 29-yard line on their first possession. They converted the fourth down play, and capped the opening drive
with a 62-yard Lane Amacker carry, as he broke two tackles, one on either side of the line of scrimmage before he took to the sideline to outrun Pass defenders for the score.
Pass responded on their first possession with a 36-yard Ladd Scriber scoring toss to Micah McKay to even the score at 7-7 with 4:50 remaining in the first quarter.
The Pirates held the visitors on their ensuing possession, nearly picking off Sydney Blackmon on third down. Their offense responded with a 12-play drive, setting up Karsten Mooney for a 35-yard field goal to give the Pass a 10-7 lead with 10:37 showing on the second quarter clock.
On the first play from scrimmage on their ensuing possession, Amacker broke through the line of scrimmage again and into the Pass secondary, going 80 yards, but a block in the back brought it back nullified the touchdown, giving Poplarville 35 yards from the goal line.
No worries: Tylan Keys carried three of the five snaps for runs of 21 yards, 3 yards and a two-yard score to put Poplarville up 14-10 with just under nine minutes remaining in the second quarter.
Poplarville would add two more scores in the second quarter – a 35-yard Kyler Boothe field goal and another Keys’ run, this time a 23-yard score with just over a minute before halftime. The Hornets would take a 24-10 lead into halftime.
The game was almost like a game of two halves as Pass would outscore the visitors in the second half. The Pirates put together an 11-play drive on their second possession of the second half as Jacquex Alexander-Dedeaux capped the 80-yard drive with a 34-yard scoring carry to put the Pirates within a touchdown of the lead (24-17).
Poplarville gave the Pirates a golden chance when they went for it again on fourth-and-2 at the Pirates’ 29-yard line. The Pirates backed them up 5 yards, and gave themselves outstanding field position at the Poplarville 24 yard line.
The Pirates failed to capitalize as they fumbled the ball away to the visitors on their down.
On their next possession, the Pirates would put together a 7-play drive, including converting a fourth-and-1. Alexander-Dedeaux would score from five yards out to close out the Pirates’ scoring as the PAT kick was blocked, after it was backed up 15 yards due to a personal foul call against the Pirates.
“We knew who we were playing coming in,” said Pirates’ coach Jeff Stockstill. “We knew it was going to be a tough game; we knew we would have our hands full. We put ourselves a little bit behind in the first half, down two touchdowns.”
Keys led Poplarville with 144 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns. Amacker added 137 yards on 12 carries and a touchdown.
Alexander-Dedeaux led Pass rushers with 88 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown.
Poplarville will host Tylertown next Friday. Pass Christian will host Moss Point.