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Football Jordan Long Beach Poly

Football: Darius Curry Leads Long Beach Poly Over Jordan With Record-Setting Performance

The562’s coverage of football in 2023-24 is sponsored in part by the MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center Foundation and Miller Children’s and Women’s Hospital Foundation

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Poly is sponsored by Bryson Financial.

He may not have put up the gaudiest numbers this season, but Darius Curry’s impact on the Long Beach Poly football team is immeasurable. The senior quarterback and team captain has been an unquestioned leader for this group of Jackrabbits, and he took a well-earned step into the spotlight during Poly’s 56-14 win at Jordan on Thursday night.

Curry went 27/41 through the air for 359 yards and a remarkable 7 passing touchdowns to match the program’s single-game record.

“Best player in Long Beach. Hands down,” said Poly head coach Stephen Barbee. “All he’s done is win, put up incredible numbers and lead this team. Over the past two seasons he has a 19-1 record in the regular season and the one loss is to the number one team in the nation. So you know what, he is incredible.”

Barbee also gave credit to offensive coordinator Rene Medina, along with Poly’s offensive line and wide receivers. In typical Curry fashion, he also gave credit to his teammates and their contributions to his record-setting night.

“It feels good, not just because this is a goal for me but because I get to celebrate with my boys,” Curry said. “Each one of my receivers helped me reach that goal, so without them it wouldn’t be possible. So I’m really just giving thanks to the boys around me because without them nothing could have happened.”

Curry threw TD passes to five different receivers, with three going to junior Ezekiel Orozco (5 catches, 52 yards), and one score each to Jordan Malau’ulu (7 catches, 96 yards), Kamarie Smith, Charles Clinton (5 catches, 94 yards) and the record-setter to Luke Buggs in the fourth quarter on a 60-yard bomb.

This is the third time a Poly quarterback has thrown 7 touchdowns in a game. Chris Lewis was the first with 7 TDs against Wilson in 1996, then Josh Love tied that mark against Lakewood back in 2014.

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Despite the prolific offensive performance, it was Poly’s defense that set the tone from the get-go. Senior Cameron Gherardi intercepted Jordan QB JJ Nielsen on the first play from scrimmage, setting the Jackrabbits up for a TD strike from Curry to Smith less than three minutes into the game.

The Jackrabbit defense didn’t force another turnover, but they didn’t have to. Poly held Jordan to -12 total yards in the first half, with four sacks and eight tackles for loss. Senior Troy Tamasoa was in on two of those sacks, but a number of Jackrabbits made Nielsen’s life difficult.

“Here’s the deal, simple, when you can’t block the front four, you are screwed,” said Jordan head coach Jon Nielsen. “And we couldn’t block the front four which means we couldn’t do anything offensively … This was definitely our worst offensive line game. So we can’t do anything when you can’t block four, and that’s what happened all night.”

The Jackrabbits would grow their lead to 28-0 midway through the second quarter off a 10-yard TD scamper by Colin Powell, who had a very productive night with 95 yards on just 8 carries.

Jordan’s lone first-half highlight came on the ensuing kickoff, when senior stud Jordan Washington scooped up an ill-advised kickoff in his direction and ran up the home sideline for an 80-yard score. A second TD pass from Curry to Orozco would make it 35-7 Jackrabbits at the half.

After the break, Jordan came out and won the third quarter, putting together a 10-play, 90-yard scoring drive. Nielsen hit Washington on a well-designed wheel route for a 20-yard score, cutting the deficit to 35-14 with about three minutes left in the quarter.

But it was all Poly from there as the Jackrabbits pulled away in the fourth quarter. And even with the record-tying performance, Curry said he’s still hungry for more and he’s not yet playing his best football.

“Kind of, but not really,” Curry said earnestly. “I had a goal tonight but I didn’t reach it, so I know that my job isn’t done. So when I finally reach my goal that I set for myself, that’s when I’ll know I’m almost there. Because the job is never done until you’re at the top living your dream.”

With the victory, Poly improved to 9-1 overall and secured an outright Moore League championship with an unbeaten league record. It’s all but certain that Poly will end up in the Division 1 playoffs, and will wait to find out who their first round opponent will be.

Jordan, meanwhile, is left with some uncertainty after finishing in fourth place. The Panthers will hope to secure an at-large bid into the CIF playoffs with their 7-3 overall record.

The CIF-SS brackets will be released on Sunday morning, so be sure to check back with The562 for full coverage of bracket day.

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Tyler Hendrickson
Tyler Hendrickson was born and raised in Long Beach, and started covering sports in his hometown in 2010. After five years as a sportswriter, Tyler joined the athletic department at Long Beach State University in 2015. He spent more than four years in the athletic communications department, working primarily with the Dirtbags baseball program. Tyler also co-authored of The History of Long Beach Poly: Scholars & Champions.