By Ted Apodaca
Los Alamitos was in control of their game against Long Beach Poly for most of the night. But when the Jackrabbits scored a touchdown with 6:37 left in the fourth quarter, the Griffin lead was just 13-6.
But the Griffins were able to respond with a 62-yard drive, leaning on senior Keanu Norman, who capped the drive with a 10-yard touchdown run that pushed the lead to 20-6 with just 3:27 left in the game. The Griffins held on for the 20-6 win to even their record at 1-1.
Norman also had a nine-yard reception and a 35-yard run on the drive that essentially sealed the win. Norman had 87 rushing yards on the night.
“If we can ride him in the fourth quarter we win, that’s what we told him,” Coach Ray Fenton said of Norman.
The Griffins kept the Jackrabbits off balance with a variety of attacks. Quarterback Cade McConnell threw for 123 yards and a touchdown, and the Griffins changed up the offense at times with Zach Wagoner taking snaps in a wildcat formation. Kenui Huey and DeMario King combined for seven catches for 110 yards and King had a touchdown.
Defensively, the Griffins pressured Poly quarterback CJ Montes most of the night, chasing him out of the pocket often and the secondary kept receivers in check. After a scoreless first quarter, the Griffins were able to get on the board with a six-yard touchdown pass from McConnell to King.
Huey had taken a screen pass and broke free down to the six yard line to set up the score. In the second half, the Jackrabbits tried a fake punt, but the Griffins held to take over at midfield. Aided by a roughing the passer penalty, the Griffins moved the ball to the Poly 1 yard line, where Waggoner finished the drive with a touchdown run to push the lead to 13-0.
Poly drove to the Griffin 11 early in the fourth, but the Griffins held on fourth down to take over on downs. But Los Al was forced to punt from their end zone, which set Poly up at the 27 yard line.
Poly capped the short drive with a six-yard touchdown pass from Montes to Kejuan Markham for their only score. Despite a close loss last week, Fenton said the team felt like they played a sound game. Fenton said they needed to win more plays.
“We just wanted to play sound and not just compete, but we wanted to win the reps,” Fenton said.
The Griffins will host Banning on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Veteran’s Stadium, Long Beach.