Poplarville High School loves to run the football.
And Friday night at W.T. Jones Stadium, boy, did the Hornets run the football.
Senior Austin Bolton bashed and slashed his way for 262 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries, while senior Roosevelt Raine bulled for another 139 yards and a score on 17 carries as the Hornets wore down Heidelberg High School 33-14.
All told, Class 4A Poplarville (5-0) handed the ball off 69 times for 525 yards, including 328 yards in the second half as the Hornets broke free on five runs of 30-plus yards.
“They were doing some things that we weren’t used to, their technique,” Poplarville coach Jay Beech said. “We got in at halftime and we fixed that, and I thought we did a good job of adjusting to that and had a lot of holes in the second half.”
Class 2A Heidelberg (3-2) scored first on a 2-yard run by senior quarterback Dontavious Porter to lead 6-0 after one quarter, but Poplarville’s Ross Barnett scored on a 2-yard run with 8 minutes, 39 seconds, to play in the second quarter to give the Hornets a 7-6 lead they never would lose.
Poplarville made it 13-6 at halftime on a drive that was kept alive when a punt from its own end zone bounced off the helmet of an Oiler who was blocking on the return. Sophomore Ethan Taylor recovered for the Hornets at their 22-yard line, and Polplarville drove 78 yards with Raine capping the drive with a violent, 23-yard burst up the middle.
The second half belonged to Bolton, who ripped off non-scoring runs of 45 yards and 40 yards, had touchdown runs of 1 yard, 37 yards and 57 yards for the Hornets.
His 1-yard run capped the opening drive of the second half and left Poplarville ahead 20-6 after three quarters, and his 37-yarder put the Hornets ahead 27-6 at the start of the final quarter.
Porter, who completed 8 of 21 passes for 270 yards with an interception, hooked up with senior Caleb Brunson on an 83-yard touchdown pass. Brunson caught the ball at the 28-yard line, slipped a tackle when the defender missed his ankles and found himself without company the rest of the way downfield.
When Porter cracked in a two-point conversion run, the Oilers had pulled within 27-14 with 9:15 to play.
But three plays later, Bolton took a handoff on third-and-7 and broke though the left side before cutting back against the grain and outracing two pursuers for a 57-yard scored.
“In the second half, coach told me, ‘Be patient, don’t push,’” Bolton said. “I just had to be patient, and I give my O-line all the credit. Those boys work hard every day in practice, so I give it to them.”
Porter connected on three passes for 57 yards to get Heidelberg inside the Hornets’ 10-yard line, but on fourth-and-1 at the 6-yard line, Porter was stopped for no gain. The Hornets took possession with 5:17 to play, and ran the ball 10 times, gaining three first downs to run out the clock.
“We left some plays out of the field,” Heidelberg coach Darius Dear said. “We had some (potential) big plays, guys wide open, and we just didn’t make plays. There’re no excuses for that.
“But the effort was there and we fought to the end.”
“Heidelberg is such a tough place to come play and get a win,” Beech said. “It was sloppy, but a win’s a win.
“They were tough. They’d shut out half their opponents this year.”
Porter rushed 13 times for 81 yards, including a 56-yard run. Sophomore Cory Knight rushed for 75 yards on nine carries for Poplarville.
The Hornets have a bye week before heading into Region 7-4A play by hosting Greene County High School on Sept. 29.
Heidelberg will visit North Forrest High School (3-2) at 7 p.m. Friday.