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Proof that defense wins games

St. Stanislaus HS (MS) and Poplarville HS (MS) staged a shootout for the ages on Friday night in Bay St. Louis, Miss. Poplarville rallied from a 60-49 halftime deficit to win 82-80 in regulation. The 162 points eclipsed the previous of 145 points set in 2000. 

"It was pretty wild," former Itawamba Community College (MS) offensive cooradinator and current St. Stanislaus coach Gabe Fertitta told the Biloxi (Miss) Sun-Herald. "I've never seen anything like it. It was the perfect storm. The flow of the game is hard to describe."

St. Stanislaus opened the game with a touchdown and, playing without its top two kickers, attempted a squib kick that Poplarville fumbled and the Rockachaws recovered. St. Stanislaus scored on the ensuing possession, attempted another squib kick and again recovered after a Poplarville fumble. Another touchdown put the score at 18-0 before Poplarville's offense took the field for the first time. 

Plenty of players submitted a half-season's worth of offensive statistics in the game. Poplarville running back Jiquan James rushed 37 times for 401 yards and five touchdowns. As a team, the Hornets totaled 639 rushing yards and 846 yards of total offense.

In a losing effort, St. Stanislaus quarterback Tyler Allen connected on 25-of-37 attempts for 443 yards and seven touchdowns. The Rockachaws also had two running backs combine for 393 yards.

On a night when the final score resembled an NBA game, Poplarville head coach Chris Teal cited his defense's three forced turnovers in the third quarter that were pivotal to his team's comeback.

In holding the Rockachawks to just 20 points in the second half, Poplarville built a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter but didn't secure the win until recovering an onside kick with 54 seconds to play. 

St. Stanislaus, who is still searching for its first win in 2012, hopes that 80 points will be enough next week.

"We needed to score 83,'' Fertitta said. "We just didn't get the job done.''