Poplarville shuts out Lawrence County in second half and wins 44-20 in 4A quarterfinals

Published 2:00 pm Saturday, November 18, 2023

Lawrence County (7-6) and Poplarville High (10-3) battled toe-to-toe in the first half of their MHSAA 4A quarterfinal game Friday in Monticello.

The visiting Hornets returned the second half kickoff down to the Lawrence County 9-yard line and scored two plays later to take the wind out of the Cougar’s sails in an eventual 44-20 win for the visitors from Poplarville.

Coach Jesse Anderson’s Lawrence County Cougars started the night strong as senior running back Ahmad Hardy picked up a big gain on the first drive, which was capped by a touchdown run by senior quarterback Kannon Cato.

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The conversion attempt was no good and LC led 6-0 with 9:21 left in the first quarter.

The Lawrence County lead lasted 14 seconds.

Poplarville freshman running back Tylan Keys needed only two carries to find the endzone. The PAT kick was good and the Hornets led 7-6.

Lawrence County returned serve with a sustained drive that included Cato picking up a big 4th-and-two conversion.

The possession ended with senior fullback Markavion Owens scoring on a 2-yard touchdown run. The 2-point conversion attempt again failed, and LC led 12-7.

The Poplarville response was once again nearly instantaneous. They returned the subsequent kickoff down to the LC 25-yard line and quickly scored again to go back ahead 14-12.

That’s where the score stood after the first quarter.

Anderson’s team took to the air on their next possession as Cato hooked up with a wide-open receiver for a touchdown pass. It was Cato’s fifth passing score of the season.

Hardy powered in to score the conversion and Lawrence County led 20-14.

And again, Poplarville answered the touchdown with one of their own. The Hornets did get an unsportsmanlike penalty on their scoring play and missed the long PAT kick to leave the game tied at 20-20.

After three straight scoring drives, the Poplarville defense forced a turnover on downs near midfield with 1:05 left until halftime. The Hornets scrambled together a possession that ended with Poplarville kicking a 35-yard field at the halftime horn to go ahead 23-20.

Poplarville got a passing touchdown in the third quarter and a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the win on ice by holding the Lawrence County offense out of the endzone after halftime.

Poplarville moves on to face Columbia High (13-0) next week in the 4A South State Championship game. Columbia defeated Pass Christian 42-7 on Friday.