HATTIESBURG — M.C. Miller wanted to go out on top.
His Wildcats made sure they made that happen but not before some late game drama.
Behind the second half play of quarterback Deontae Yarbrough, Louisville rallied over Poplarville 25-20 to claim the MHSAA Class 4A State Championship at Southern Miss’ M.M. Roberts Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It is Louisville’s (15-1) ninth state title in school history and first since 2013. The Wildcats are now 9-0 in state championship games.
“We’ve been grinding for nine all year and we finally got it,” Miller said, who is retiring as Louisville’s head coach after 45 years of coaching. “Our guys never panicked, but our offense needed to get going in the second half and the defense needed to slow them down and they did.”
Louisville trailed the entire the game until the fourth quarter.
Trailing 14-6 at halftime the Wildcats outscored the Hornets 19-6 in the second half.
Louisville took the lead on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Deontae Yarbrough to Niselbylon Kirk with 10:08 left in the fourth quarter.
Wildcat quarterback Deontae Yarbrough led the offense going 12 of 20 passing for 140 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed 19 times for 160 yards and was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
“I came out flat in the first half, but in the second half we stepped it up. I trusted my offensive line with reads today,” Yarbrough said. “Coach told me take over and put the team on my back and I did that. To continue the legacy of winning state championships at Louisville my senior year is great.”
The Louisville defense gave up 278 yards rushing to Poplarville, but only 123 yards in the second half.
“We just slowly got rid of the mental mistakes and that is what got us in the first half. Playing against an offense like that is about being disciplined,” said Louisville linebacker and Ole Miss commit Ashanti Cistrunk. “We put it together as a team and came out on top.”
Kevon Jackson would have two rushing touchdowns for Louisville, while Alvius Haynes added a touchdown catch for the Wildcats.
Tyson Holston would lead the Poplarville rushing attack with 90 yards on 13 carries with three touchdowns. The Hornets had a chance to regain the lead with just two minutes and a half left, but a fumble on their own 44-yard line sealed it for Louisville.
“We laid it all on the line, just came up short and ran into a talented group over there,” said Poplarville coach Jay Beech. “Our quarterback had a shoulder injury so we were limited as far as throwing the ball and Louisville did a good job on adjustments in the second half. We felt like we could win. Just feel bad we didn’t come out on top for these seniors.”