by Rick Ford
From the moment you stepped into the Veteran’s Memorial Stadium on the campus of Long Beach City College, you could feel the electricity in the air. As the game drew closer, Long Beach Poly High School’s state-record 80-game conference winning streak was on the line, and Lakewood could sense a chance at making history. Poly had not lost a Moore League game since 1994 and more importantly, had not lost to Lakewood since 1982, when Ronald Reagan was early in his first term as president.
On a balmy California evening that would give way to a chilly night in Long Beach, the crowd came early and excited, a throng of 11,500 alumni from both schools gathering for this annual rivalry.
And what a night it was to be. We are talking high school football royalty here. The Poly Jackrabbits have won or shared 17 consecutive league championships in their history. But on this night, it was the Lakewood Lancers’ turn to be the conqueror.
After two quarters of play that saw Poly score on the final possession of the half to take a 14-7 lead into the locker room, Lakewood came back in the second half with a game plan that would prove victorious. But not without a stuggle from a rough and tumble Poly team.
Led by eventual Great American Rivalry Series Most Valuable Player, quarterback Jesse Scoggins, the Lancers would do the undoable and hand the Jackrabbits their first defeat in league play in 15 years. The winning score would come with 9:06 remaining in the game on a three-yard run by Lakewood’s Terrance Woods, following a 22-yard pass play from Scoggins to Ron Lewis. The Jackrabbits would have one more chance to tie the score with 1:22 remaining in the game, but the Lakewood defense sniffed out the fourth-down flea flicker and ended the threat with 1:14 to play.
What was impressive was the Poly pride that showed through. In unfamiliar territory as the underdogs for this annual clash, they fought like champions even in defeat. But give credit to the Lakewood team and their fans. This night belonged to the Lancers, and they did not disappoint.
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- Lakewood vs. Long Beach Poly – 2009