There were too many good football players on the field for Long Beach Poly for it to go scoreless for the entire game Friday night against Narbonne.
The Jackrabbits’ offense sputtered out of the gates as senior Kejuan Markham fumbled away a punt on Poly’s first potential offensive possession of the game, leading to the Gauchos’ only points of the nonleague game.
But Markham got those points back, and then some, as the defensive back recorded three second-half interceptions, all leading to touchdowns, as Long Beach Poly upended Narbonne 26-3 in its home opener at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“Good teams find ways to win,” first-year Jackrabbits coach Stephen Barbee said. “At halftime we said if our offense isn’t going to do it for us, our defense has to put points on the board for us and our defense answered the call.”
Markham’s first pick-six, and Poly’s first points of the game, came at the 2:02 mark of the third quarter when he intercepted Narbonne’s Jaylen Henderson and took it back 45 yards for the score.
Poly (2-0) scored again a minute later as Bryson Parham recovered a fumble in the end zone to give the Jackrabbits a 13-3 advantage.
Narbonne replaced its sophomore quarterback with a freshman, Ashley Tucker Jr., whose first pass was nabbed by Markham for a 37-yard touchdown, bringing Poly’s lead to 20-3 with 44 seconds left in the third.
Markham’s final interception was his most electrifying as he flew into the middle of the field, snagged a looping pass and dodged defenders 95 yards for his third and final defensive touchdown of the game.
Markham said the early game mistake lighted a fire under him, especially after seeing his team struggle offensively.
“It was big-time motivation for me because last week I came out slow and this week I did too,” he said. “I knew I had to just make plays and win this game.”
Narbonne’s defense played well despite the large gap on the scoreboard.
Narbonne (0-2) held the Poly offense to zero points and only 75 yards of offense, but the Gauchos offense had a tough time moving the chains and taking advantage of scoring opportunities deep in Jackrabbits territory.