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Long Beach Poly defeats Gardena Serra in overtime of season-opening showdown

Gardena Serra quarterback Maalik Murphy drops back to pass in the first half of Friday night’s game against Long Beach Poly.
Gardena Serra quarterback Maalik Murphy drops back to pass in the first half of Friday night’s game against Long Beach Poly at Cabrillo High School. Steve Galluzzo / For The Times
(Steve Galluzzo / For The Times)

Devin Samples scored on a five-yard run in overtime to lift Long Beach Poly to a 27-21 triumph over Gardena Serra in a nonleague showdown between two perennial powers at Cabrillo High in Long Beach on Friday.

“It felt so good,” Samples said of his game-winning run. “I had to break a couple of tackles. It was a stretch play and I followed my blocks. We worked on this all week and we knew we could win.”

Serra got the first possession in overtime, starting at the Poly 35-yard line, but on fourth and 17, La’mar Black intercepted a pass by Serra’s Maalik Murphy at the Poly 15.

The first Friday night of high school spring football had one common theme among players, coaches, parents and organizers: resolve.

Poly took over at midfield with 3:16 left in the fourth quarter and drove to the Serra 34 before Lamont Shamburger intercepted a pass in the end zone and returned it 24 yards with one second left in regulation.

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Murphy, a junior making his starting debut for Serra and committed to Texas, showed poise and patience in the pocket. He threw for two touchdowns, the second a 26-yard laser to wide-open Donovan Roebuck that gave the Cavaliers a 21-14 lead with 8:42 left in the fourth quarter.

Poly responded by driving 87 yards in six plays, tying it at 21-21 on Shea Kuykendall’s five-yard quarterback run with 6:03 remaining.

Murphy found Elijah Davis over the middle for a 38-yard gain on the first play of the game and the Cavaliers proceeded to drive to the Poly 14, but Kai Honda hooked a 36-yard field-goal attempt.

High school football scores from across the Southland on Friday, March 12.

Serra defensive back Rodrick Pleasant opened the scoring when he intercepted a tipped pass near the Jackrabbits’ 30-yard line and followed a wall of blockers into the end zone with 7:25 remaining in the first quarter.

Poly answered on its next drive, marching 65 yards in nine plays, capped by Jeremiah Fort’s one-yard run with 3:11 left in the first quarter.

After three consecutive punts, Poly drove 75 yards in eight plays, taking a 14-7 lead on a four-yard run by Samples. Kuykendall completed all five of his pass attempts on the drive.


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