After a setback against Los Alamitos last week, Long Beach Poly proved they were ready for primetime on Friday night against Serra, putting up a good fight before falling a few plays short in a 29-25 loss.
The game, which was televised on Fox Sports, saw Poly build a 19-0 lead to start the game, fall behind 20-19, then take a 25-20 lead with 11 minutes left before giving up the game-winning score with two minutes left in the game.
“Overall I thought we played pretty well,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “We needed to get stops and we didn’t at the end of the game. Some of of the turnovers in the first half came back to haunt us.”
Poly got one good half from its offense and one good half from its defense, but needed more against a talented Cavaliers team.
The Jackrabbits opened the game with their foot on the gas pedal thanks to an interception return for a touchdown by Daylen Fuller on the game’s opening play. After a goal line stand and a missed field goal on the next series, the Jackrabbits offense went on a march familiar to any fans of the team dating back to the Raul Lara era.
Poly ran 14 plays, 13 of them runs, during an 8:05 minute drive that covered 80 yards, ending in a touchdown run by DeAngelo Chester. After a three and out stop by the Poly D, the Jackrabbits needed just three plays, including a 33-yard scamper by Jaden Wade, to set up a second Chester TD and give themselves a 19-0 lead.
It was a welcome sight for an offense that has lacked an identity early this season.
The rest of the half was harder to watch. Serra scored a quick touchdown, and then Poly had three drives end in turnovers to finish the half, giving Serra two field goals and an interception return for a touchdown. By the time the teams got to the locker rooms, Serra was up 20-19.
The Jackrabbits were without Keon and Kejuan Markham, as well as Elijah Juarez in the second half; Barbee said the three starters all were held out a half for disciplinary reasons.
In the second half, things didn’t get much better for the Poly O, as they struggled to move the ball in the third quarter with Serra stacking the box. They got a break late in the third when the Cavs muffed a punt, setting up an Anthony Parker touchdown run from six yards out.
Serra responded with a five-minute drive to the Poly 2, which ended on a fourth-down stuff by the Poly defense. The Jackrabbits, backed up in their own zone, ended up facing a fourth and long and electing to take an intentional safety to make it 25-22.
The safety allowed them to kick off, but Serra was able to drive the ball downfield and score on a busted coverage. Poly got the ball back with two minutes left but couldn’t keep the sticks moving and turned it over at the Serra 39.
Poly (2-2) will host Millikan next week at Vets.