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Hornets hold off Rocks 42-31 to advance
By Joseph W. Gex, II
Nov 11, 2017, 00:13

St. Stanislaus running back Cahill Marlowe had five carries for 114 yards Friday night in SSC's 42-31 loss to the Poplarville Hornets.

The weather finally cooled off and it felt like football temps 'between the walls' at the Brother Phillip Memorial Athletic Complex Friday night.  The crowds were packed on both sides of the field.  Both teams were in their second season.  It was the second round of the Class 4A playoffs and the St. Stanislaus Rock-a-chaws were hosting the top-ranked team in 4A in the Poplarville Hornets.  Only bad luck struck twice on the fourth Poplarville possession of the game which ultimately was a deciding factor in the Hornets' 42-31 victory that sent them to the third round next Friday night.
SSC (6-6) opened the game on offense and it took just four plays to find the endzone.  Andrew Trapani picked up two yards before Jake Greer went to the air and found Lee Negrotto for a gain of six yards.  Greer gained three yards before he ripped off a 54-yard touchdown run with 10:47 left in the opening quarter.  Beau Rimmer converted on the PAT to make the score 7-0.
Poplarville got their turn next and dominated the clock for over seven minutes on a 15-play drive.  Poplarville kept the ball on the ground only and converted on three fourth down plays with the final one being a one-yard plunge by Peytan Graham with 3:26 left in the first quarter.  Ethan Spiers nailed the PAT to knot the score 7-7.
The Rocks were unable to move the sticks and were forced to punt.  The Hornets took over at their own five yard line after a Beau Rimmer 51-yard punt.
The Hornets moved the sticks twice on the drive highlighted by a 34-yard run by Cory Knight. But, the Rock defense led by Thomas Weber, Leo Roos, Lewie Negrotto, Nick Hava and others stepped up to force a turnover on downs.
Both teams exchanged punts again until Poplarville took over on their own 34 yard line. After a stop on first down, a dead ball personal foul was called on SSC that gave the Hornets 15 yards and first down. Austin Bolton ripped off 17 yards for another first down at the Rock 21.
Knight carried for five more yards to the Rock 16.  On the next play, the Rocks stopped Knight for a two-yard gain but another dead ball personal foul penalty was called and the Rocks lost a player to an ejection.  The penalty brought the ball to the Rock  eight yard line.  On the next play, Knight scored from eight yards out with 1:48 left to play in the first half.  Spiers converted on the PAT to make the score 14-7.
The Rocks took over after the kickoff on their own 38 yard line.  Greer went up top to Dallas Payne for 11 yards.  Then, Greer found JD Rutherford for a gain of five yards followed by a Poplarville penalty for a defensive hold that moved the sticks for SSC.  The Rocks lost nine yards on a sack on the next play and a fumble occurred.  Graham picked up the loose ball at midfield and scored on a 50-yard return with 1:03 left in the half.  Spiers' PAT made the halftime score 21-7.
Poplarville opened the second half on offense and proceeded to eat up over eight minutes on the clock with a 13-play drive that resulted in Bolton scoring from eight yards out with 3:48 left in the third quarter.  Spiers' PAT made the score 28-7.
The Rocks used their halftime adjustments wisely and Trapani ripped off 30 yards on a carry off-tackle.  Greer then found Taylor LaFontaine for a gain of six yards down to the Hornet seven yard line.  Three straight carries by Greer ended with a one-yard plunge into the endzone with 1:56 left in the third quarter.  The two-point conversion failed leaving the score 28-13.
Poplarville kept the difference on their ensuing possession going 59 yards in seven plays culminating with Knight scoring from 17 yards out with 10:17 left in the game.  Spiers made the score 35-13 with the PAT.
The Rocks took over on their own 32 yard line.  Cahill Marlowe ripped off 38 yards down to the Hornet 30 yard line.  A holding penalty brought the ball back to the Hornet 36 yard line on the next play.  The Rocks tossed two incomplete passes but got a yellow hankie thrown in their favor for pass interference.  The flag brought the ball down to the Hornet 21 yard line.  Greer delayed and then ran right up the gut for a 21-yard touchdown with 9:28 left in the game.  The two-point conversion failed leaving the score 35-19.
Poplarville was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the touchdown run and the Rocks kicked off from the Hornet 45 yard line.
The Rocks attempted an onsides kick but the attempt failed giving the Hornets the ball at their own 32 yard line.  The Hornets went 68 yards in nine plays with Knight scoring his third touchdown of the game on a two-yard run with 4:18 left in the game. Spiers made the score 42-19 with the PAT.
It took SSC just two plays to find the endzone as Marlowe sprinted for 55 yards down to the Hornet 13 yard line. Then, Greer went to the air and found Rutherford for a 13-yard scoring toss with 3:51 left in the game.  Again, the two -point conversion failed leaving the score 42-25.
The Rock defense stiffened on the next drive forcing a three-and-out highlighted by two consecutive plays for a loss with Hava, William Weber and Jake Gardner teaming up for the stops.  Poplarville punted away to the Rocks who took over at their own 30 yard line with 2:06 left to play.
Two consecutive false start penalties moved the Rocks back to the 20 yard line.  Marlowe gained nine yards followed by Greer for six yards.  Marlowe picked up seven more yards and a face-mask penalty gave the Rocks a first down at their own 42 yard line.
Trapani went for 14 yards before Greer hit a streaking Trapani for a gain of 41 yards down to the Hornet 20 yard line.
The Hornets were flagged for pass interference which brought the ball down to the eight yard line.  Greer found Trapani alone for an eight-yard scoring toss with no time left on the clock.  The game and season ended with a touchdown pass for SSC that made the final score 42-31.
SSC head coach Jeff Jordan commented, "Nobody ever gave this team a cut dog's chance to get in the playoffs this season.  And, these boys did it.  They went on the road and beat a #2-seed McComb team and then went to-to-toe with the top team in 4A tonight.  We did not win the turnover battle tonight and losing our top tackler to an ejection definitely hurt, but we made some adjustments on offense at halftime and were able to move the football.  They won the time of possession and the one crucial turnover were the biggest factors in the game.  I cannot be any prouder of these boys.  Nobody gave them a chance and they never quit.  Their backs were up against the wall and they never quit.  i would not trade any one of these players or these coaches for anything or anybody.  They practiced hard this season, they bought into what we wanted to do and they believed.  I can't be any prouder of them."
Brandon Tartavoulle will be playing in the Mississippi/Alabama All-Star game the second weekend in December and he stated, "Playing here has prepared me for the next step in life.  All the early morning workouts, all the late practices with the guys, it all gets you ready for the next level.  I am looking forward to getting back into the weightroom on Monday morning and make an impression in December."
Senior free safety JD Rutherford has been selected to play in the O-D Sports National All-Star game in December in New Orleans. He commented, "I have truly enjoyed playing here the last four years.  There is no doubt this is a brotherhood and there is nothing like it anywhere else.  All things come to an end and this teaches us how to handle the adversity that stands in our way."
Jake Greer, senior quarterback and captain, stated, "I will remember everything that happened on this field the last four seasons.  i got to play for a state championship.  We never ended our season outside the playoffs.  My last pass was a touchdown toss to my classmate Andrew Trapani. This game teaches you so much about what life throws at you.  There is adversity at each snap of the ball and how you react defines the outcome.  The end happened tonight but all my brothers on this team, we know how to face adversity.  Being a Rock-a-chaw and playing this game has been a dream come true.  And, I did it with 75 of my brothers."
Greer will play in the North/South All-Star in December as a quarterback for the South squad.  
In the game, Greer threw for 110 yards and two touchdowns on 9-for-18 passing.  He also rushed nine times for 103 yards and three touchdowns.  Marlowe had five carries for 114 yards and Trapani added 62 yards on five carries.
The Rocks end their 2017 season with a 6-6 record in the second round of the state playoffs. Poplarville will host Purvis next week in Poplarville in the Class 4A state quarter-finals.  Purvis defeated Florence 41-21 on the road.  Until next season, see you at the game!


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