Long Beach Poly Falls To Serra

By Mike Guardabascio (courtesy of www.gazettes.com/sports/poly)
November 3, 2017

It had been a frustrating football season for Serra, with narrow fourth-quarter losses against several high-profile opponents. On Friday, the Cavaliers ended the regular season with a dramatic, impressive win over Long Beach Poly, finishing the Jackrabbits off 24-20.

“We needed to win one of these games,” said Serra coach Scott Altenberg. “We hadn’t all year. We got a really good opponent and I’m real proud of the way we fought tonight.”

Serra (6-4) finished the season as the Mission League’s third-place team, while Long Beach Poly (8-2) was the champion of the Moore League. Both teams are bound for the CIF Southern Section Division 1 playoffs, with the brackets set to be released Sunday morning at 10 a.m.

 “This was what we wanted, great competition before the playoffs,” said Poly coach Antonio Pierce.Serra took a 24-7 lead early in the fourth quarter on an interception returned for a touchdown by Justin Patterson, and then had to hold off a furious Jackrabbit rally.

Poly shifted into a no-huddle offense and finally got some traction, scoring the game’s last two touchdowns to pull within striking distance.

Matt Corral hit Darius Kryger for an 11-yard score with 9:47 left, then kept it himself to bring Poly within a score with 4:58 left. The Jackrabbits kicked an extra point to go down just 24-20 instead of attempting a two-point conversion, which could have put them down by just three points.

After a Kejuan Markham interception, the Jackrabbits got the ball back with just over three minutes left, and drove to the Serra 10-yard line. Needing a touchdown instead of a field goal, the Jackrabbits had to go for it on 4th and 6 and Corral’s run was stopped short, giving Serra the ball and the game.

 The Cavaliers went up 3-0 with a field goal on their first game of the year. Poly answered immediately with a 59-yard touchdown from freshman Jacob Garcia to Markham, who started the game in place of Corral.

“That was an in-house deal,” Pierce said.

Garcia was 5 for 5 for 113 yards and the touchdown. Corral finished with 100 yards passing and 60 yards rushing, with two total touchdowns.

Serra was boosted by the return of quarterback Blaze Mckibbin, who put the Cavs up 10-7 with a touchdown pass to Merlin Robertson, who triple-clutched it before hauling it in. Two Poly fumbles kept the Jackrabbits quiet and then after an interception by Bryan Addison Mckibbin found Kobe Smith to put Serra up 17-7 at halftime. The Cavaliers offense sputtered in the second half but took the deciding score on Patterson’s pick-six in the early fourth quarter.

Mckibbin finished 16 for 31 for 125 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.