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ERIC SONDHEIMER ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Lakewood rallies to halt Long Beach Poly's win streak

Poly leads at halftime but falls, 21-14, snapping its Moore League streak at 80 games, a state record.

October 10, 2009|ERIC SONDHEIMER | ON HIGH SCHOOLS

Streakbusters. That's going to be the legacy of the Lakewood High football team after the Lancers made history Friday night by ending Long Beach Poly's state-record 80-game Moore League winning streak with a 21-14 victory at Long Beach Veterans Stadium.

Break out the T-shirts and start the party, because what the Lancers accomplished is a big deal. Poly hadn't lost a league game since 1994 and hadn't lost to Lakewood since 1982. The Jackrabbits have won or shared 17 consecutive league titles.

"We've always had this hump, and we finally got over it," Lakewood defensive tackle Todd Barr said. "They gave us a heck of a game."

Whether this was an aberration or a changing of the guard remains to be seen, but overcoming Poly's mystique and tradition was a supreme challenge, and Lakewood (5-1, 2-0) had no one better equipped to lead the way than USC-bound quarterback Jesse Scroggins.

The pressure was building on Lakewood after it fell behind, 14-7, at halftime. Its fans among the evenly divided crowd of more than 11,000 were growing restless. Scroggins hardly looked sharp, completing six of 14 passes for 45 yards in the first half.

But when it came to crunch time, the poise and confidence of Scroggins came through loud and clear. He passed nine yards to Kevin Anderson on fourth down for a touchdown on Lakewood's opening possession of the second half, cutting his team's deficit to 14-13.

In the fourth quarter, on fourth-and-six from the Poly 32, he connected with Ron Lewis for a 22-yard gain to the 10-yard line. That set the stage for the go-ahead touchdown by Terrance Woods on a three-yard run with 9:06 left.

The big surprise was how tough a fight Poly put up.

Poly (2-4, 1-1) was playing like the Poly of old in the first half, making crunching tackles, running the ball effectively and getting clutch receptions by sophomores not old enough to drive.

Both the Jackrabbits' touchdowns came on one-yard plunges by quarterback Chris Leachman. The last one came as time expired at the end of the second quarter after officials conferred and then finally raised their arms.

Senior running back Cory Westbrook had 92 yards rushing in the first half. Sophomore receiver Josiah Blandin twice made acrobatic catches on third downs. And senior Kaelin Clay had a 24-yard reception down to the Lakewood two-yard line on fourth-and-15.

Poly got the ball back with 4:47 left after a Scroggins pass turned out to be a lateral, with the Jackrabbits recovering on their own 48. Blandin caught his fourth big reception of the night, a 28-yarder, down to the Lakewood 30.

But a holding penalty and an illegal procedure penalty caused the Jackrabbits' drive to stall. They faced a fourth-and-13 from the 32 with 1:22 left.

They tried a flea flicker, going with a reverse, then a lateral back to Leachman, but Lakewood's defense converged on Leachman at the 41 with 1:13 remaining.

Westbrook gave a huge boost to Poly with his second effort on runs. He finished with 119 yards in 26 carries.

Confident but not cocky is the best way to describe Scroggins, who came in with 18 touchdown passes and one interception in five games.

He passed for just 116 yards, completing 14 of 26. The statistics meant nothing to him.

"I'm caring less about the numbers and more about the wins," he said earlier this week.

He got to celebrate in the middle of the field Friday night, as Lakewood students charged ahead to celebrate the historic victory.

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eric.sondheimer@latimes.com

twitter.com/latsondheimer

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