Lakewood Varsity Football vs Poly 10-23-15 -45.JPG

It didn’t come without an early scare, but Long Beach Poly’s football team fended off Lakewood at Veterans Stadium on Friday night for a 35-21 Moore League victory.

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The Jackrabbits (6-2, 4-0) got the scoring started with a 43-yard pass to Zion Bowens from Malik Henry (pictured) who played his first full game for Poly.

The Lancers picked it up from there, responding with two JD Rafkin touchdown passes (13 and 23 yards) to Jaylen McDuffie and Spencer Owens to take a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.

That advantage would last for the shortest amount of time possible, as Aaron Shampklin returned the ensuing kickoff 84 yards for the score. Poly would not trail again.

Henry was impressive overall in his full-time debut, totaling 333 yards and four touchdowns on the night, while completing 22 of 33 pass attempts.

Wide receiver Jack Jones made his presence felt all night. The senior tallied 179 yards and two scores on nine receptions.

His biggest play of the night, both in terms of yardage and creating momentum for his squad, came with three seconds left in the third quarter. The defense had just stopped the Lancers one play earlier on a 4th-and-goal attempt from the 2-yard line before Jones took a pass from Henry 98 yards the other way, turning what was just yards away from a potential 21-21 tie into a 28-14 Jackrabbit advantage.

“It was good,” Poly coach Antonio Pierce said of his team’s resiliency, both after Lakewood took the early lead and again with the red zone stop. “A lot of things happened this week in our program. Our old offensive coordinator came back, so there’s a lot of new wrinkles the kids had to adjust to. For our team overall I liked it. We played a lot of young guys in a lot of situations to get better as a program.

“Got to give credit to Lakewood,” he added. “They came out fighting, fired up. They believed they were going to win and they made plays against some of our top guys. To their credit they played a good game.”

Poly’s defense also came up big, delivering seven sacks and an interception on the night.

McDuffie paced the Lancer offense with 111 yards and a touchdown on seven catches, while Josh Cummings tacked on a rushing score in the fourth quarter.

Poly is set to host Jordan on Friday at 7 p.m., while Lakewood (2-6, 2-2) will host Compton. 

JJ has covered Long Beach sports for more than a decade. He's written for multiple newspapers in Southern California, produced professional event videos and won numerous awards for his writing and community service.

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