Lakewood High came so close Friday night and still the Lancers must wait another year for a shot at beating Long Beach Poly in a football game.
Wide receiver Desean Jackson of Poly made sure of that, slipping behind Lancer defensive back Da'milyn Tanner for a 33-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cruz Parsons with 1:45 left to pull out a 14-10, come-from-behind victory at Long Beach Veterans Stadium.
It was the 48th consecutive Moore League victory for Poly, ranked No. 4 in the Southland by The Times, and puts the Jackrabbits (7-2, 5-0) a game up on the Lancers (7-2, 4-1) in the league race with one game remaining.
Lakewood, which has not defeated Poly since 1982, had the high-powered Jackrabbits off-balance all night and might have pulled this one out if it had not lost two fumbles inside Poly territory.
The first came early in the second quarter at the 20-yard line with Lakewood trailing, 7-0. The second came on the third play of the second half at the Jackrabbit 33. Lakewood quarterback Justin Wheeler began the drive with a 42-yard run.
Lakewood also had a first down just outside the Poly 10 with 33 seconds left in the second quarter, but a delay-of-game penalty on third down that followed two incomplete passes by Wheeler forced the Lancers to settle for a 38-yard field goal by Mark Magana to make it 7-3 at halftime.
Still, Lakewood's defense kept it in the game. The Lancers sacked Parsons seven times and held Poly's ground attack to 26 yards. A one-yard run by Eliah Webb capped a four-play, 12-yard drive for a 10-7 Lakewood lead in the third quarter. The drive was set up when linebacker Brock Malinoski forced Parsons to fumble deep in Poly territory and Lancer defensive back Marein McDuff recovered.
Poly's winning drive started at the Lancer 48, with Parsons tossing five passes.
Lakewood Coach Michael Christensen said that Tanner was in man-to-man coverage when Parsons lofted a pass over his head for what proved to be Jackson's second touchdown reception of the night.
"I guess they thought we were going to throw the wheel route," Jackson said. "I was open and I just had to catch that ball. I thought it would be a close game."
Christensen said it was a tough loss.
"This was the best defensive performance," he said. "We had this Moore League title in our sight."
Parsons completed 14 of 20 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. Jackson caught nine passes for 123 yards and two scores.