Louisville makes right ad­just­ments to take down Po­plarville

The Sun Herald (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY PA­TRICK MAGEE

Po­plarville took it to Louisville for the first 15 min­utes of Sat­ur­day’s Class 4A state cham­pi­onship game at M.M. Roberts Sta­dium.

The next 33 min­utes mostly be­longed to Louisville.

With a 25-20 vic­tory, Louisville head coach M.C. Miller earned his third state cham­pi­onship in what may be his last game af­ter 45 years in the pro­fes­sion.

Po­plarville jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the 9:49 mark of the sec­ond quar­ter on Tyson Hol­ston’s sec­ond of three touch­downs in the game, but the Hor­nets failed to build on the early mo­men­tum to hold off a much big­ger Louisville squad.

For Louisville, it was sim­ply a mat­ter of ad­just­ing to Po­plarville’s po­tent Wing-T of­fense.

Po­plarville out-gained Louisville 122-1 to start the game, but the Wild­cats found their way on of­fense be­hind quar­ter­back Deonte Yar­brough and won the yardage bat­tle 356-156 over the fi­nal 33 min­utes of ac­tion.

Louisville (15-1) made the de­ci­sion to stack the box on de­fense and that proved to be the right call be­fore a crowd of 5,263.

“We knew our of­fense would come back and move the ball on them be­cause they had shut them­selves down,” Miller said. “Our de­fense had to get to­gether and stop them. They wanted to drive the ball down the field slow, 3 yards and a cloud of dust. I told them we had to stop that. We went with­out a free safety and went to a 5-4 (scheme on de­fense).”

Sat­ur­day’s de­feat was dif­fi­cult for a Po­plarville squad that came up shy in the state ti­tle game for the sec­ond time in the last three years af­ter los­ing

27-12 to Lafayette County in 2016.

“I thought we laid it all on the line, gave it ev­ery­thing we had,” Po­plarville coach Jay Beech said. “These guys wanted it bad, be­lieved we could do it. No­body doubted. We come up short. That’s a hard pill to swal­low.”

Sat­ur­day’s loss ended a 13game win­ning streak for the Hor­nets and set their fi­nal mark at 13-2.

Po­plarville made a pair of key mis­takes late in the game that pre­vented the Hor­nets from mount­ing a rally.

First, Po­plarville ju­nior safety Kevin Hart was called for un­sports­man­like con­duct af­ter the

Hor­nets hit Yar­brough for a 1-yard loss on thir­dand-2 from the Po­plarville 42. Hart cel­e­brated the tackle by spiking the ball, draw­ing a flag and a Louisville first down with 10:20 re­main­ing.

On the next play, Yar­brough threw a 28-yard touch­down pass to Nisel­by­lon Kirk to make it 2520 with 10:08 left.

Sec­ond, ju­nior run­ning back Cory Knight fum­bled at the end of a 15-yard run that would have set the Hor­nets up for a first down at their own 42 with 2:33 re­main­ing in the game.

The Wild­cats re­cov­ered the fum­ble and came up with a first down to run out the clock.

While the Hor­nets made a cou­ple of cru­cial mis­takes in the fourth quar­ter, they were also the vic­tim of some bad luck due to in­juries to ju­nior run­ning back Chase Shears and se­nior quar­ter­back An­to­nio Barnes.

For the sec­ond year in a row, the Class 4A South State cham­pion lost its star run­ning back to in­jury and couldn’t hold on in the sec­ond half of the state ti­tle game.

A year ago, East Cen­tral run­ning back Tony Brown was lost to a shoul­der in­jury in the sec­ond quar­ter of a 41-35 loss to Nox­ubee County.

On Sat­ur­day, Shears left the game twice in the third quar­ter with cramps and didn’t re­turn af­ter the sec­ond in­stance with about 5 min­utes left in the third.

“Chase is an im­pact player for us,” Barnes said. “For him to go down to in­jury, it hurt.”

Shears, who had only one rush in the sec­ond half, fin­ished with 12 car­ries for 77 yards.

Barnes suf­fered a shoul­der in­jury when he pulled in an in­ter­cep­tion on de- fense late in the sec­ond quar­ter. Ju­nior Blaise Breer­wood, who started the sec­ond half at quar­ter­back, and Brown split snaps for much of the sec­ond half for the Hor­nets, who failed to com­plete a pass in the game.

“We felt like we were mov­ing the ball and they put 11 in the box,” Beech said. “Our quar­ter­back (Barnes) couldn’t even feel his arm, but he’s out there still play­ing. It kind of lim­ited what we could do.”

While Barnes and

Shears were lim­ited with in­juries, Hol­ston turned in a strong show­ing in his fi­nal game as a Hor­net. He ran 13 times for 93 yards and ac­counted for all three of Po­plarville’s touch­downs.

“He’s a 4-year starter for us, some­body we count on. He had a great game,” Beech said.

Yar­brough earned the MVP honor by run­ning 19 times for 160 yards. He also com­pleted 12 of 20 passes for 120 yards, two touch­downs and two in­ter­cep­tions.

At 6-foot-3, 245 pounds, the Po­plarville de­fense had a tough time get­ting the se­nior quar­ter­back to the ground.

When Louisville put the ball in Yar­brough’s hands, that pre­sented a ma­jor prob­lem for the Hor­nets’ coach­ing staff.

“Do we want a deep safety to cover those re­ceivers? Do we want to take some­body out of the box and let the quar­ter­back run?,” Beech said. “They’ve got a very tal­ented team. We were just do­ing our best. Our de­fense hung in there as long as they could.”

FRI­DAY’S SCORES

Class 6A: Horn Lake 31, Oak Grove 27.

Class 2A: Nanih Waiya 21, Sim­mons 18.

Class 3A: Wa­ter Val­ley 34, Sem­i­nary 28.

JOHN FITZHUGH jc­[email protected]­her­ald.com

Louisville de­fen­sive back Mar­cus Glenn strips the ball from Po­plarville run­ning back Cory Knight in the fourth quar­ter of Sat­ur­day’s 4A state cham­pi­onship game at M.M. Roberts Sta­dium in Hattiesburg. The fum­ble killed the Hor­nets’ last chance of a come­back.

JOHN FITZHUGH jc­[email protected]­her­ald.com

Po­plarville run­ning back Chase Shears breaks away from Louisville’s Mar­cus Glenn in the sec­ond quar­ter of the 4A state cham­pi­onship game Sat­ur­day at M.M. Roberts Sta­dium in Hattiesburg.

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