Filing out of the stadium at Rancho Cucamonga, Long Beach Poly fans all had a similar look on their faces: disbelief. The Jackrabbits had outgained the Cougars by 100 yards, forced two turnovers, doubled up Rancho’s vaunted passing attack by yardage, and had the ball inside the Rancho Cucamonga red zone four times. Despite all of those positive statistics, the scoreboard told a difference story in a frustrating loss for the Jackrabbits, 21-7.
“We didn’t execute when we needed to,” said Poly coach Stephen Barbee. “Our defense played a hell of a game. our offense got great field position, we just couldn’t execute.”
The Cougars’ offense was led by All-American quarterback CJ Stroud, who the Jackrabbits held to 117 yards passing. Poly had 348 yards to Rancho’s 248, and ran 67 offensive plays to the Cougars’ 42, possessing the ball 28:32 to Rancho’s 19:28.
Poly also sacked Stroud three times, as Khilyn Neal got to him twice and Jonathan Scott opened the game with a sack.
The teams traded punts early, and Poly sophomore Jordan Wheeler picked off Stroud. Poly drove to the Rancho 20 but couldn’t punch it in. The Cougars would score on their next drive to take a 6-0 lead, but Wheeler returned the kickoff 70 yards to their 10. The Jackrabbits had four tries from a first and goal and ended up turning it over on an incompletion. Poly had another prime chance after a muffed punt gave them the ball on the Rancho 26, but once again the drive came up empty.
The Cougars scored later in the half to take a 14-0 lead into the break.
Poly finally busted through in the third quarter as Mehki Jordan hit Kyren Rachel for a touchdown, but that would prove to be the only scoring Poly did.
The Jackrabbits (8-4) end the season in the quarterfinals, but will return quite a few players next season. We will have a full breakdown of what’s coming back for Poly next week.