Football Long Beach Poly Wilson

Football: Long Beach Poly Wins Big Game At Wilson

There was a sold-out crowd, a Hall of Fame class, a historic rivalry, and as much pomp and circumstance as you could ever hope to cram onto one football field. There was also another Long Beach Poly win, as the Jackrabbits defeated Wilson for the 28th time in a renewal of Long Beach’s longest-standing sports series. The Jackrabbits passing game came to life in a 42-24 win over Wilson.

“We’re big on talking on Friday,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “Our kids have been hearing all the hype and the talk, our kids understood what they needed to do tonight and they said what they wanted to say.”

Poly ran the ball all game against Millikan last week and had the same gameplan against Wilson last year. The Bruins came out loaded up to stop the run, and Poly threw it all over the field for the whole night, as senior quarterback Mehki Jordan went 18/27 for 362 yards and five touchdowns, finding junior standout Keyonta Lanier five times for 84 yards and three scores.

“I just kept saying they can’t guard me,” said Lanier. “I’m like 7/11, I was always open. I’m glad we could show the city that Poly still runs Long Beach, this was big for us.”

Wilson coach Mark Ziegenhagen’s team came into the game undefeated, and ranked No. 1 in Division 7, which they’ll still be the favorites to win this year. Ziegenhagen admitted his team was prepared to stop a different Poly team than the one they ended up facing.

“We prepared for the run, and they came in and passed it and we didn’t adjust,” said Ziegenhagen. “They exposed some things for us, we’ve gotta get better.”

The issue for Wilson was that their front was unable to generate any pressure on Poly, which meant that Jordan had plenty of time for his receivers to get open downfield.

“It was a little bit like passing league, yeah,” said Jordan. “We’ve got a lot of really special guys at receiver and I’m glad they got to shine. I was confident in my offensive line that I’d have time to throw tonight.”

The Jackrabbits scored on their first four offensive possessions as Jordan found Lanier for the first three and then Kyren Racheal. The Bruins got a 60-yard dash for six from Peter Sio, and scored when Jerimiah Artis fell on a loose ball in the end zone that Poly fumbled on a kickoff. That made it 28-17 at halftime after Poly fumbled it away on the Wilson five at the end of the first half.

“We turned the ball over four times, we’ve got to clean some of that up,” said Barbee.

In the second half, Poly came out and established themselves again with a quick touchdown drive that ended with Jordan finiding Jordan Riles for a score. After a three-and-out for Wilson, Poly got a 65 yard touchdown from Malachi Rice to make it 42-17 and effectively end the game midway through the third quarter. The Bruins scored in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard run from Dillon Harris.

All told, Poly piled up 597 yards of total offense in the victory, to Wilson’s 247.

Racheal led Poly with five catches for 131 yards and the score, while linebacker Bryun Parham had 10 tackles. Wilson got 129 yards on 11 rushes from Sio. Bruins quarterback Ryan Pettway threw for 57 yards in the game; Wilson had three drops on what would have been first-down completions.

The Jackrabbits (3-3, 2-0) will host Cabrillo for Poly’s 112th homecoming game next week while Wilson (6-1, 2-1) will travel to Jordan.

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Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.