The hits were coming so fast and furious Friday night that Santa Margarita didn't know what to do about the licking Long Beach Poly was inflicting on the Eagles in the opening round of the Pac-5 Division playoffs.
"They're big guys," Santa Margarita quarterback Ryan World said.
And they're quick too. Poly's defense forced four fumbles with jarring hits and had two interceptions as the top-seeded Jackrabbits (10-1) rolled to a 39-7 victory at Veterans Stadium.
"The first round of the playoffs, you got to send a message," Poly linebacker George Daily-Lyles said.
The message is that Jackrabbits are ready to challenge for their 17th Southern Section title.
"They came out very focused," said Santa Margarita Coach Mike Jacot, whose team beat the Jackrabbits, 9-7, in the opening game last season. "It's one thing to play them early and another in Week 11. They're poised for a playoff run."
Junior running back Melvin Richardson rushed for 124 yards and scored two touchdowns, quarterback Morgan Fennell threw touchdown passes of five and 23 yards to Kevin Norrell and Jonathan Heinze kicked field goals of 34, 28, 28 and 46 yards, all in the second half.
Santa Margarita (5-5), the fourth-place finisher from the Trinity League, could never get its offense in gear.
The first half told the story. Poly had 181 yards rushing to Santa Margarita's five. The Jackrabbits led, 20-0, on touchdown runs of 37 and 22 yards by Richardson and a five-yard touchdown pass from Fennell to Norrell.
Poly's defensive line, led by Darryl Johnson and Jurrell Casey, was too quick, too big and too physical for the Eagles.
Next up for Poly is a rematch with Newport Harbor, which defeated host Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 7-3. Notre Dame played without quarterback Dayne Crist, who did not receive a doctor's clearance after suffering a concussion last week. Poly beat the Sailors, 34-7, in Week 2.
"Wow," was the reaction of Poly Coach Raul Lara after hearing the Notre Dame score.