Fountain Valley High School's final drive against Long Beach Poly Friday night ended fittingly, as Baron quarterback John Peart underthrew Terry Reichert at the Jackrabbit five-yard line on fourth down with a minute left to play.
Once again, the Barons had sustained a decent drive in the nonleague game--this one lasted 12 plays--only to have it end in frustration.
Fountain Valley came close several times but could never score, as Long Beach Poly defeated the Barons, 21-0, in front of 3,500 fans at Long Beach's Veterans Stadium.
The Jackrabbits, ranked No. 1 in Southern California and No. 6 nationally by USA Today, intercepted Fountain Valley quarterback John Peart three times in a basically poor passing performance. The senior completed just 7 of 23 attempts for 48 yards.
Jackrabbit linebacker Brian Tuliau accounted for two of the interceptions, including one in the second period that he returned 55 yards for a touchdown. Safety Mark Carrier added the third.
Long Beach Poly improved to 4-0 with its second shutout of the season. The Jackrabbit defense still hasn't allowed a touchdown. The 10 points Banning scored against Poly last week came on an interception return for a touchdown, a two-point conversion and a safety.
Other than that, the Jackrabbits have allowed just three points and 321 total yards in wins over Gardena, Whittier and Banning. The defense bent a bit Friday night, as Fountain Valley managed 205 offensive yards.
But every time the Barons got close, their offense folded.
Fountain Valley, after driving 52 yards to the Jackrabbit 28 on 9 plays in the second period, killed its own rally with a clipping penalty and an interception.
The Barons had another good scoring opportunity in the third quarter when they drove from their own 31-yard line to the Poly 31 in 8 plays. But a running play lost four yards, Peart's second-down pass fell incomplete, and he was sacked by Gilbert Moxley for a six-yard loss on third down, thus forcing a punt.
On its final possession, Fountain Valley had a first-and-goal on the Poly eight-yard line after cornerback Mike Coulson was called for interfering with Chris Neria on a pass play.
But an illegal motion penalty pushed the ball back to the 11, where Peart missed on his first pass. Derek Teuscher then gained three yards on a run, and Peart was sacked by Moxley again, this time for a five-yard loss to the 13.
Peart missed on his final pass attempt, and the Barons, losers of three straight after after starting the season with two wins, were left scoreless.
Had Peart been accurate on one pass in the second period, the Barons may have challenged the Jackrabbits. After faking a run to the left side, Peart rolled right from his 22-yard line and had Neria open on a crossing pattern, with no Poly defenders behind him.
But Peart's pass was overthrown by several yards, giving Neria no chance to catch the ball. Fountain Valley trailed, 7-0, at the time. Three plays later, Tuliau returned his interception for a touchdown and a 13-0 lead.
All of the Jackrabbits' interceptions came in the first half, as Poly capitalized on two Fountain Valley turnovers to take a 13-0 intermission lead.
On the Barons' first play, Tom Vrab, who has seen limited action this season because of a knee injury, fumbled after a five-yard gain and Carrier recovered for Poly.
Quarterback Mike Herring, who threw for 96 yards and a touchdown, hit Michael Vaughn with an 18-yard pass and, after a Wyatt Young run gained three yards, Leonard Russell took an option pitch from Herring and went 14 yards around the right side for a touchdown. Adam Scolaro's extra point made it 7-0.
The Jackrabbits made it 13-0 when Tuliau picked off his second pass and returned the interception 55 yards for a touchdown with 1:31 remaining in the half.
Poly scored its final touchdown early in the fourth period when Herring found Eric Morgan in the end zone for a 3-yard scoring pass. The Jackrabbits drove 80 yards in just 7 plays, one of them a 49-yard run by Russell and another an 11-yard run by Russell, who finished the game with 89 yards in 7 carries.