STARKVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The Poplarville Hornets and Lafayette Commodores engaged on the battlefield, Davis Wade Stadium, on the campus of Mississippi State in Starkville. It was cold and a continuous rain pelted the field making for a gloomy day.
Both the Hornets and Commodores had rung up 12 consecutive wins before Saturday's 4A state championship showdown.
Lafayette jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead and increased it to 27-0 in the third quarterback before the Hornets rallied.
The Commodores scored on their second offensive play from scrimmage, a 77-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Williams. 205 pound running back Jamarcus Quarles made it 14-zip, racing 20 yards past and through Poplarville defenders, finding the end zone.
Poplarville tried a hook and ladder play, but it backfired. The ball ended up in the hands of Commodores defensive back Brandon Turnage and he would go the opposition direction racing 65 yards for another Lafayette touchdown with 17 seconds remaining in the half. The point after touchdown attempt was no good giving Lafayette a commanding 20-0 advantage.
Jamie Shaw raced 24-yards for a touchdown in the third quarter that propelled the Commodores to the big lead.
Poplarville senior running back Jesse Pernell wouldn't give up. Pernell led the Hornets with 216 yards rushing and a touchdown. Paytan Graham also scored the Hornets and Poplarville closed the gap 27-12 late in the fourth quarter.
Poplarville head coach Jay Beech said, "These kids are very special. We love each and every one of them. and they let it all out on the line each time they step foot on the football field. We let the game get away from us a little bit in the first half and a lot of that is my fault. We never quit and we made it a game out of it there at the end. We wouldn't have had some foolish play calls in the first half, we would've had a better chance there at the end."
Poplarville closed out the season with 12 wins and 2 losses. Lafayette improved to 13-2, having won 13 straight games.
"I don't think the environment affected the kids at all. We missed a couple blocks but I thought the kids played really well, "said Beech. "It's definitely a stepping stone for us getting here. We hope to get back and win it."
The Hornets will graduate 18 seniors including senior fullback Jesse Pernell. However, quarterback Antonio Barnes completed his sophomore season. Running back Tyson Holston will be a junior next season and running back Austin Bolton will return for his senior season.
Bolton wasn't at full-speed after suffering a high ankle sprain in last week's bit win over Florence.
Coach Beech completed his third season at Poplarville and no doubt he has built a winning reputation in Pearl River County.