No. 10 Dunbar rolls Cambridge-South Dorchester for 1A state football final berth; Moore throws 4 TD passes (VIDEO HERE!)


Dunbar quarterback Karon Moore looks downfield as Cambridge-South Dorchester’s Malik Ennals closes in during Saturday’s Class 1A state football semifinal. Moore completed nine of 14 passes for 129 yards and four touchdowns as the No. 10 Poets advance to the title game with a 45-3 victory over the Vikings at Sugar Cain Field in east Baltimore.

by Derek Toney

The offensive line is in sync. The first-year quarterback has become a leader. The defense has been solid through it all.

It’s been a season of transition for Dunbar High football. Now, the Poets are back in a familiar position.

No. 10 Dunbar advanced to the Class 1A state title game with a 45-3 victory over Cambridge-South Dorchester in a semifinal contest at Sugar Cain Field in east Baltimore. Sophomore quarterback Karon Moore threw four touchdown passes for the Poets (12-1 overall).

The Orleans Street school put up a running clock in the second half, securing its area-best 13th state final berth. Dunbar will play Frederick County’s Catoctin, Saturday afternoon at 3:30 at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium for the state championship.

A year after a stunning loss in the state semifinals, Dunbar erased the bitter memory with its best performance of the season Saturday.

“My coaches did a good job of game planning. We knew they had some good running backs…we didn’t think we were going to shut them down,” said Poets coach Lawrence Smith. “We just wanted to slow them down and get them out of their comfort zone.”

Cambridge-South Dorchester (10-3), which beat Edmondson in last weekend’s state quarterfinals, managed only James Frazier’s 32-yard field goal late in the second half. The scoring drive was setup by Dunbar’s failing to convert a fake punt inside the Vikings’ 35-yard line.

It was the only mistake Dunbar made. The Poets netted 381 offensive yards Saturday as Moore threw three of his four touchdowns in the opening half.

Moore, who became the starter in week five after being injured, said Saturday was the first time he felt in command.

“We never had a team keep us to eight points in a quarter, so they kind of slowed us down,” said Moore.

Moore and his receivers were at Cain at sunrise Saturday morning, making sure passing routes were crisp. It was that attention to detail Moore said the Poet coaches stressed all week.

It paid off immediately Saturday afternoon. On the game’s opening drive, Moore, on fourth-and-13, flipped a pass to Tyreek Sykes. Sykes turned upfield and sprinted to the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown.

Cambridge-South Dorchester stopped the Poets on fourth down on their drive inside its 25 with a sack of Moore. Midway in the second, Moore lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone where junior Rashard Clayborn pulled it in for a 13-yard score.

After the Vikings got on the scoreboard, Moore directed a five-play, 58-yard response, connecting with Khalil Bailey for a 25-yard touchdown with 53 seconds remaining before halftime. Moore went seven-of-nine for 92 yards in the first half.

“He wanted to bring the receivers out here this morning to get their feet wet. He’s growing up and you’ll get to watch him for the next two years after this,” said Smith with a sheepish grin. “It’s his show.”

Moore located an open Dearius Carr in the corner of the end zone from 14 yards for his fourth score. Deon Crews-Harris’ 29-yard jaunt and Nyckholas Simpson’s two-point conversion run, made it 38-3, starting a running clock with about 10 minute, 30 seconds left in regulation.

Smith commended his offensive line of Keith Foster, Derrick Massey, John Thomas, Dayvon Davis and Tyreek Sterrett. The Poets rushed for 252 yards Saturday with junior Jeremiah White leading the way with 119 yards on 15 carries.

“Coach being on us during practice and after games made us hungry,” said Foster, a junior right tackle. “It’s been a long road with a lot of ups and downs.”

Since losing its season opener to fourth-ranked Mervo, Dunbar has won 12 straight.

“We got mostly juniors and we were scared a little bit in the preseason,” said Crews-Harris, a senior. “After the loss to Mervo we showed we can play as a team. The offensive line struggled, but in recent weeks, the defensive line and offensive line watched film separately…the defense has remain intense and physical.”

The Poets will try for title No. 11 next Saturday against Catoctin, which routed defending champ Fort Hill Friday evening. The Frederick County school defeated Dunbar in the 2009 state semifinal en route to the state title.

Dunbar and Fort Hill has won every 1A championship since. The Poets’ bid for a repeat last season was ended by Prince George’s County’s Douglass in the rain at Poly.

“The kids were dedicated and wanted to get back here,” said Smith. “We’re really young, we’re mostly 10th and 11th graders. If we do it this year, we’re overachieving.”

CLASS 1A STATE FOOTBALL SEMIFINAL

No. 10 Dunbar 45, Cambridge-South Dorchester 3

Cambridge-South Dorchester 0 3 0 0 – 3

Dunbar 8 14 8 15 – 45

First quarter

Dunbar – Tyreek Sykes 37 pass from Karon Moore (Deon Crews-Harris run)

Second quarter

Dunbar – Rashard Clayborn 13 pass from Moore (run failed)

Cambridge – James Frazier 32 field goal

Dunbar – Khalil Bailey 25 pass from Moore (Kristian Spriggs run)

Third quarter

Dunbar – Deandre Carr 14 pass from Moore (Spriggs run)

Fourth quarter

Dunbar – Crews-Harris 29 run (Nyckholas Simpson run)

Dunbar – Davonta Ayers 29 interception return (Baye Diop kick)