HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) _ The Poplarville High School had used an overpowering running game to win 13 consecutive games on its way to the Class 4A state championship football game.
Saturday afternoon, that ground game ran out of gas just shy of the finish line at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the University of Southern Mississippi campus.
Tyson Holston’s third touchdown run had Poplarville ahead 20-12 early in the third quarter, but Louisville High School scored the game’s final 13 points to overtake the Hornets in a 35-20 victory.
Louisville (15-1), the North State champion, was appearing for the ninth time in state championship football game. The Wildcats have won nine crowns.
“All year, we called it the ‘Grind for Nine,’” Louisville coach M.C. Miller said.
Miller, who had announced that this would be his final season, wrapped up a 45-year coaching career in style, as the Wildcats won their first state football title since 2013.
“It feels good going out a winner,” Miller said. “I just wanted to go out with a bang. They said they were going to win it for me, and they sure did.”
Holston, who gained 90 yards on 13 carries, scored on a 9-yard run to put the Hornets ahead 7-0 after a quarter, and then scored early in the second quarter on a 5-yard run to increase the lead to 14-0.
Louisville senior quarterback Deonte Yarbrough, the game’s Most Valuable Player, threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Alvius Haynes to cut the Wildcats’ deficit to 14-6 at halftime.
Yarbrough rushed for 36 yards and completed a 20-yard pass to Haynes on a 62-yard scoring drive to open the second half. When senior running back Kevon Jackson scored on a 4-yard run, the Wildcats had pulled within 14-12.
Holston’s 44-yard run boosted the Hornets lead back to eight points. Jackson scored on a 14-yard run to cut Louisville’s deficit to 20-18 after three quarters before Yarbrough’s 28-yard touchdown pass to junior Niselbylon Kirk early in the fourth quarter put the Wildcats ahead for good.
“It hurts right now, but when I look back on it at the end of the week, I’ll feel very blessed to get to coach these guys,” Poplarville coach Jay Beech said. “I’m very thankful to have, but right now, it hurts. We believed we could do it, nobody doubted and we came up short, so that’s a hard pill to swallow.
“It’s very special and we can look back when the sting of this goes away, and be grateful and thankful for our opportunity.”
All told, the Hornets rushed for 278 yards. Junior running back Chase Spears gained 77 yards on 12 carries, but carried just once in the second half. Junior fullback Cory Knight rushed for 46 yards on 12 carries.
Yarbrough carried 19 times for 160 yards and completed 12-of-20 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.
Kirk caught five passes for 57 yards and a score and Haynes had three catches for 50 yards and a touchdown.
HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) – Junior running back Shia Moore, who rushed for 106 yards and a touchdown, threw the game-winning touchdown pass as the Warriors defeated the three-time-defending Class 1A state champions Friday.
Moore hit senior Coley Taylor with a 34-yard touchdown pass with 7:01 left in the third quarter to give the Warriors the lead, and Nanih Waiya held on to snap Simmons’ 54-game winning streak, the longest in the nation.
Nanih Waiya (15-1), which lost to Simmons in last year’s Class 1A state championship game, saw junior quarterback Donoavan Turner rush for 144 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries.
Senior running back Aaron Davis gained 82 yards and a touchdown on just five carries for Simmons (14-1), while senior receiver C.J. Williams ran for a 51-yard touchdown on his lone carry.
Senior quarterback Tyderius Gipson completed 10-of-18 passes for 238 yards, including three to senior Antavius Rounds for 180 yards and a touchdown.
The difference in the game: three extra points by Nanih Waiya senior Jake Knight.