PASADENA — Coach JR Tolver was livid from the start.
After watching his Sage Hill School football team give up huge chunks of yards on Pasadena Poly's first drive, Tolver ate into his players on the sideline.
"They're running the same play over and over! Dive! Dive! Dive!" Tolver yelled. "It's going to be 57-0 if we don't stop it."
The Lightning never figured out how to slow down running back Harrison Hodgkins on Friday. The senior pounded Sage Hill for 232 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries.
By the time Hodgkins left the nonleague game in the third quarter with an ankle injury, it was over. The Panthers were on their way to scoring their fourth touchdown and recording a 28-0 victory at home.
The setback was Sage Hill's fourth in a row. During the skid, the Lightning (1-4) have been shut out twice by ranked teams from the CIF Southern Section Northeast Division.
Sage Hill almost scored with less than a minute left against Poly (4-1), ranked No. 9. However, an illegal-block penalty nullified a 41-yard touchdown pass by quarterback Harrison Ray to Thomas Fenner.
Tolver was upset about the flag and he talked to the officials about it after the contest. As Tolver walked away from them, one official blew his whistle and threw a flag.
Tolver was about to shake hands with Poly Coach Brendan McGrail when he turned around to see the yellow flag.
"It's frustrating," said Tolver, who also saw Poly block a 33-yard field-goal attempt right before halftime. "I still think we have a good football team, but for whatever reason, we aren't able to do the two things that you have to do to win football games. You got to be able to run the ball and you have to be able to stop the run. We didn't do either one of those things."
Sage Hill's ground game struggled, mustering only 24 yards on 24 attempts. That is a one-yard average.
Poly ran the ball 50 times for 342 yards and four touchdowns. The Panthers didn't have to throw much, only attempting four passes.
Sage Hill linebacker Michael Schidlovsky intercepted one of those passes right before halftime. The mistake was actually Poly's second in the first half.
On the opening kickoff, Sage Hill's Eric Cheng recovered an onside kick. The Lightning surprised the Panthers, but they wasted great field position at midfield and punted.
"There's 150 plays in a game, so if you play well one play and then play bad 30 plays in a row, then that's not a good start," Tolver said.
While the beginning wasn't sound for Sage Hill, the ending had a few bright spots.
Taylor Petty, coming off a leg injury, played more in the second half than he did in the first half. The senior safety delivered the biggest hit during the game.
On Hodgkins' first carry in the third quarter, the quarterback tossed it to Hodgkins. Petty hit Hodgkins as soon as the ball hit the tailback's hands, causing a fumble. The Panthers recovered, but they lost Hodgkins nine plays later.
"I think he might have got back in the swing of things," Tolver said of Petty, who returned after missing last week's game and caught two passes for 34 yards. "That kid, when he decides to let it loose, he's unstoppable. I keep preaching to him, 'Just let it loose. Let it loose.'
"We came into the season with a major goal, which is to win the Academy League. We know we got some time before that even can happen. That being the case, [Petty's] one of our better players, we want to make sure that when that time comes, he's healthy and ready to go."
Tolver expects Petty to get more action next week, when Sage Hill plays host to Firebaugh of Lynwood. Whether Petty plays quarterback is another question.
"I went to their game [Thursday] night. They're fast and physical and athletic," Tolver said of the Falcons (2-4). "We're going to have to show up and get off this skid."
Pasadena Poly 28, Sage Hill 0
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Sage Hill 0 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
Poly 14 – 6 – 8 – 0 – 28
P – Hodgkins 8 run (Olson kick), 7:04.
P – Hodgkins 7 run (Olson kick), 1:54.
P – Hodgkins 5 run (run failed), 9:28.
P – Kayyem 4 run (Bowman run), 4:43.
SH – Cheng, 9-25.
P – Hodgkins, 25-232, 3 TDs.
SH – Ray, 9-23-1, 114.
P – Bowman, 2-4-1, 6.
SH – Petty, 2-34.
P – Pinon, 1-6.