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2nd half surge pushes Poplarville past Lawrence County

The Poplarville Hornets reeled off 24 straight second half points, defeating the Lawrence County Cougars 38-14 in the MHSAA south 4A title game Friday night. After the two teams battled to a 14-14 tie in the first half — Poplarville, playing at home — thoroughly dominated after the intermission.

Poplarville — playing in the south 4A title game for the fourth straight year — earns the right to play for a 4A state championship this Saturday at USM. It will be the Hornets’ third title shot in the last four years. Poplarville lost its last two previous appearances in the championship game.

Jesses Anderson’s Cougars ended their fine 2019 campaign with a mark of 9-6. The Cougars finished 6-5 in the regular season but reeled off three straight playoff wins before falling to Poplarville.

Poplarville gained a 7-0 lead on a 24-yard run by Zac Owen with 3:02 left in the first quarter. Lawrence County responded immediately, getting a 50-yard kickoff return from Quincy Lewis and a 44-yard scoring jaunt from Kylan Cooper.

Poplarville answered Lawrence County’s score almost as quickly. Owen ripped off a 42-yard run, setting up a 23-yard touchdown run by Caziah Daniels. It was 14-7 after one quarter.

It remained 14-7 until the very end of the first half. Taking over at its own 11-yard line, with 1:59 left on the clock, Lawrence County put together a 7-play scoring drive. Cooper had runs of 26 and 24 yards, along with a 15-yard penalty against Poplarville on the drive. On the final play of the first half Cooper scored on a 4-yard run tying the game at 14-14.

That was really the last highlight for Lawrence County. Poplarville recovered an onside kick to start the second half. The Hornets quickly drove for a score and Lawrence County never recovered.

For Lawrence County, Cooper capped a huge senior season rushing 15 times for 154 yards, finishing the year with almost 2,2200 rushing yards. Owen, a 230-pound fullback, led Poplarville with 168-yards on 22 carries.

Poplarville (9-5) will meet Corinth (13-1) Saturday at 11 a.m. in M.M. Roberts Stadium. Corinth knocked off previously unbeaten Greenwood 31-14 Friday night.

Story by Craig Davis