For the second year in a row, Long Beach Poly pulled a jackrabbit out of a hat to stun Mission Viejo.
Colorado State commit Darius Curry had more than 300 yards passing and three touchdowns as well as scored on a one-yard keeper to lead the host Jackrabbits (2-1) to a 32-28 triumph Friday night at Veterans Stadium. He passed for 300 yards and two touchdowns as a junior in the Jackrabbits’ 35-31 comeback win at Mission Viejo last year.
Curry had two passes intercepted, the second of which was returned 64 yards for a touchdown by Boise State-bound Travis Anderson, but made amends by leading Poly on an eight-play, 55-yard game-winning drive that was capped by his roll out and 11-yard pass to wide receiver Kamarie Smith with 28 seconds left.
Smith had seven receptions for 251 yards and three touchdowns for Poly, which led 17-6 at the half, then gave up 22 unanswered points before scoring on its last two drives in the final five minutes to prevail.
“Even when we were down two scored we had that chip on our shoulder,” Smith said. “That last touchdown play was called for me, a slip up the seam to the end zone. It was tough, but I had it.”
It was a much-needed win for Poly, which lost by 45 points last week to Bishop Gorman.
For Mission Viejo, two is better than one at quarterback. That philosophy has worked so far for Diablos, who rotated Draiden Trudeau and Luke Fahey to great effectiveness again despite the loss.
“It’s been phenomenal,” sixth-year coach Chad Johnson said. “I stole the idea from Matt Logan at Centennial after they put up 62 [points] on us using two quarterbacks [in the Southern Section Pac-5 championship game in 2015] when I was the offensive coordinator at St. John Bosco. Right then and there I knew that if you have the right guys it can work just fine.
“Both are phenomenal leaders who can run the offense at a high level,” Johnson added. “In fact, if you look at the South Coast League stats they are No. 1 and No. 2. They trade off every series. Of course, I reserve the right to alter that if I see fit, but that’s the plan for now. The best part, though, is that they get along great.”
Trudeau and Fahey have embraced the strategy to employ dual signal callers to replace Kadin Semonza, who threw for 2,715 yards and 33 touchdowns with only three interceptions last season.
Trudeau, a 6-foot, 180-pound junior, entered Friday’s game having thrown for 249 yards and three touchdowns while Fahey, a 6-0, 185-pound sophomore, had totaled 285 yards and four scores in victories over Oceanside El Camino and Citrus Valley.
Both engineered scoring drives against Poly. Trudeau tossed a 21-yard touchdown strike to Cash Semonza to give the Diablos (2-1) a 6-0 lead in the first quarter and Fahey marshaled his team 62 yards in five plays to pull within 17-14 on the first possession of the second half. Trudeau escaped the pocket and scrambled for 34 yards to set up Hinesward Lilomaiava’s nine-yard touchdown run that increased the Diablos’ lead to 28-17 with 10:37 left.
However, each also made a critical mistake in the second quarter. With Mission Viejo poised to tie the score with the ball at the Poly seven-yard line, Fahey had a pass intercepted in the end zone. Trudeau fumbled at his own 24 while he stretched for extra yardage, leading to a Poly field goal. Fahey’s desperation heave as time ran out was intercepted at the Poly 20.
There were two 35-minute delays for injuries to Long Beach Poly players, who were taken to Long Beach Memorial Hospital.
Senior offensive lineman Michael Salinas suffered a lower leg injury. Junior cornerback Donte Wright suffered an apparent neck injury.