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Mater Dei pounded by LB Poly in Pac-5 final
ANAHEIM – Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson had meticulously reviewed tape of Long Beach Poly's previous game. He had seen what Poly used to beat St. John Bosco of Bellflower in the semifinals.
"An active, hard-hitting defense," Rollinson said, "and a quality, run-dominated offense."
The Jackrabbits had plenty of that for Mater Dei, too.
Long Beach Poly used a steady running game, a systematic pounding of the opposing quarterback and even a couple of big pass plays to beat Mater Dei, 35-17, in the CIF-Southern Section's Pac-5 Division championship game Saturday in front of 12,736 at Angel Stadium.
Mater Dei's remarkable comeback season is over. The Monarchs, who missed the playoffs last year for the first time since 1986, returned to 1990s form this season. And it was a '90s rival, Poly, that ended the comeback.
Mater Dei finished the season 11-3. It won't be invited to play in next week's Regionals round of the CIF State Bowl Championships, because only section champions can advance to the state playoffs. Poly, at 11-3 and with its CIF-record 19th section championship in hand, will continue its season.
The Regionals will have four divisions, with games played next Friday and Saturday. The announcement of teams selected to the Regionals will be made Sunday.
Poly and Mater Dei played each other in CIF-SS championship games three years in a row, 1997-99. Poly was victorious in '97, Mater Dei in '98, and the '99 game ended in a tie.
Rollinson thought the Monarchs missed their chances.
"I thought we had some offensive opportunities in the first half," he said. "We had a touchdown called back (on a penalty) and we missed a wide-open receiver. You can't leave points like that off of the board. In the second half, they (Poly) smelled blood, and we didn't respond."
The Jackrabbits pressured and pounded Mater Dei quarterback Chase Forrest frequently. One sack, on a smackdown of a hit by Poly's Matt Mitai, produced a fumble that teammate Jayon Brown picked up at the Mater Dei 14 and took it to the end zone for a game-clincher touchdown that made it 28-10 midway through the third quarter.
A fourth-quarter interception set up Poly's final touchdown.
In the first quarter, Poly's Manusamoa Luuga ran 71 yards for a touchdown. And Jackrabbits junior quarterback Tai Tiedemann threw two first-half touchdown passes.
This one quickly looked like the one-sided game it became as Poly scored touchdowns on its first three possessions.
Taking the game-opening kickoff, the Jackrabbits showed its traditional quick-strike style to travel 63 yards on six plays. Tiedermann connected with Juju Jones on a 21-yard pass play for the touchdown. Jones collected a short pass, broke Jonathan Lockett's attempted tackled at the 13-yard line and high-stepped it into the end zone from there to make it 7-0 only two minutes into the game.
Mater Dei's first possession saw the Monarchs drive to the Poly 26. They faced a fourth-and-6 at the Jackrabbits' 26, but a run by Forrest produced only 3 yards, giving the ball to Poly at the 23.
After a 6-yard run by Gerard Wick and an incomplete pass, Poly senior running back Luuga, lined up in wildcat formation, took a direct snap and burst throw a hole at the left side of the line to go 71 yards for the touchdown that pushed the Jackrabbits' lead to 14-0 with 4:48 to go in the first quarter.
Mater Dei followed by putting together a long drive of 16 plays, but the Monarchs could only get three points from a 24-yard field goal by Tim Strader.
Poly made it three touchdowns on as many possessions. Starting on the 50 after a 31-yard kickoff return by Iman Marshall, Wicks ran for 17 yards, a procedure penalty backed the Jackrabbits up 5 yards, and Tiedemann threw a great pass to Thomas Tucker for six points.
Mater Dei punted on its ensuing possession. Poly, starting from its 37-yard line, maneuvered to the Monarchs' 18. On fourth-and-8 there, an incomplete pass gave the ball to Mater Dei. The Monarchs assembled another long drive, but this one ended with a touchdown.
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