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A crowd of nearly 3,000 came to Compton High School for the most anticipated football game to hit Compton in years but what they got was a reminder that Long Beach Poly is still the class of the Moore League.
Poly (8-1, 4-0 in league) defeated the Tarbabes 42-14 for their eighth consecutive victory dominated by their physical defense and Compton’s inability to run or stop the ball as well as they had all season.
After tailback Donald Green scored on the opening drive, the Tarbabes went ahead 8-0 after a two-point conversion. But the Jackrabbits soon took over and after being up 14-8 at halftime, two touchdown passes by quarterback Morgan Fennell broke the game wide open and they never looked back.
Fennell went 12 for 14 with 175 yards and said he felt 100 percent after struggling with back pains earlier this season.
“He’s just seeing things that we need him to see,” Poly Coach Raul Lara said, “He obviously did a good job today and we need him to do that. It just brings another element to our offense.”
Also stepping up for Poly was senior tailback Ricky Johnson, who had 115 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
Despite facing a speedy, pressing defense, Compton (8-1, 4-1) stuck with their running game but it was to no avail as the lineman, led by Jurrell Casey, consistently broke through to stuff the run. The defense forced an interception and three fumbles (recovering two) while sending several Compton players to the sidelines with injuries.
“We thought we’d be able to come here and run the ball and if we were able to hold onto the ball and move the chains, we would be okay,” Compton Coach Calvin Bryant said, “But Poly, being very fast and physical, did a great job running our guys down and making plays.”
Not counting the opening drive, Compton’s offense got no further than Poly’s 31-yard line, save for a long touchdown run by tailback Byron Walker on the game’s final play.
Green rushed for 107 yards on 15 carries in the first half but left the game in the third quarter after suffering a vicious hit that led to a fumble. After going to the hospital for x-rays, he suffered two broken ribs and will be a game day decision against Lakewood, Bryant said.
Tailback Curry Williams suffered a sprained left hand in the second quarter and played the second half with a cast on it. He finished with seven carries for 21 yards but because his injury was not serious, he will play tomorrow night.
Compton had not beaten Poly since 1979 but many expected that with their hot start to the year, this would be the best chance in years to end that streak and the packed stadium reflected the hype surrounding this game.
To accommodate the overflow of fans, there were an extra police presence surrounding the school and extra grandstands were placed at both end zones but despite them, fans spilled over on the sidelines and the track.
The atmosphere matched that of a playoff game as the electricity in the crowd was at a high voltage starting with the pre-game homecoming ceremonies, capping off with the return of their mascot, Tom Tartar and his horse, after 55 years.
“This was a great atmosphere for football,” Bryant said.
After losing to Birmingham in September, Poly has won seven straight games while looking better with each outing. The win also extended their state record for league victories to 72.
Meanwhile, going back to their third quarter against Millikan two weeks ago, Compton has been outscored 63-14 in their last six quarters and will possibly be without their leading rusher for their regular season finale tomorrow.
The Tarbabes are still on track to have their best season in years and will be a key player in the CIF playoffs starting next week.
But last week, their best ran into a speedy buzz saw and when it was all said and done, they were just the latest victims of Poly’s 13-year league dominance.