Head Coach Brinson Wall and the South Pike Eagles were hoping that the third time was the charm. However that wasn't the case, Friday night in Poplarville.
For the third-consecutive season, the Eagles fell to the Hornets in the playoffs on the road, this time by a score of 27-6.
“We had a good season, it ended in Poplarville again," Wall said. "Poplarville has a good team. We gotta get better.”
Poplarville (8-3) came out firing on all cylinders, putting up 21 unanswered first quarter points using their signature wing-T offense and dynamic running backs.
Hornet back Tyron Holsten broke the scoring seal on the game's first drive with a 15-yard scamper. With the extra point, the Eagles faced a 7-0 deficit.
After the Eagles' first offensive drive stalled, Poplarville took to the ground again in the second drive starting from its own 34.
On the first play, fullback Gregory Swan burst through the middle of the Eagle defense then raced down the sideline before being brought down at the South Pike 15. Dj Richardbey then scored on the following play with a run of his own making it a 14-0 lead for the hosts.
Looking for a spark, South Pike took the air but things didn’t pan out very well. Quarterback Chris Royal's first pass attempt of the game sailed over the outstretched arms of Brandon Johnson and into the hands of Hornet defender Jamaya Henry for an interception that he returned to the Eagle 34. A few plays later, Holsten took sweep play around the left sideline and followed a convoy of blockers for a 30 yard touchdown. The extra point put the Poplarville up 21-0 heading into second.
South Pike took to the ground with the wildcat in the second quarter and found moderate success, but was unable to reach the end zone. On three separate occasions, the Eagles marched into Poplarville territory, but ultimately turndown the ball over on downs on each possession.
The Eagle defense settled in and stalled Poplarville running attack forcing two 3 and outs causing no change in the score before halftime.
On the opening possession of the second half, the Eagles stuck to the ground game and it paid off. A 16 play drive covering 71 yards which took 6:00 off the clock paid off on a five-yard rushing score from Kam Reynolds, cutting the Hornet lead down to 15 at 21-6.
South Pike’s defense carried their second quarter performance into the third, forcing a big turnover downs on the next possession at the Eagle 45. A Reynolds 32-yard run on the next drive gave the Eagles a first down on Poplarville’s 13 going into the 4th quarter.
South Pike failed to add points to the board as the Poplarville defense stiffened and stalled the Eagles at the 5 yard line.
The rest of the fourth saw Poplarville play keep away as they converted multiple 3rd downs maintaining possession of the ball eating valuable clock time.
A drive that started on the Poplarville 5 ate up over 8:00 of clock before Poplarville eventually turned the ball over on downs at the Eagle 40 with 3:00 to go.
After a quick 3-and-out, Richardbey added the icing to the cake on a 34 yard run up the gut to put Poplarville up 27 to 6.