Dunbar High’s football team said it’s focusing on the basics. Friday evening, the No. 16 Poets’ 14-6 victory over No. 13 City College was relatively simple.
Dunbar combined stingy defense and steady running to hand the Knights their first loss, and put itself back in the hunt for another Baltimore City Division I title. The Poets (4-1 overall, 3-1 Division I) extended their win streak against City (4-1, 3-1 Division I) to four.
“We just wanted to control the clock and control the line of scrimmage,” said Poets coach Lawrence Smith. “The kids did a good job. We’re just trying to get better every week.”
“We just lined up and play man-to-man football,” said Dunbar running back/linebacker Epe Henriques.
Henriques and JaQuan Holt scored running touchdowns for the Poets. Steffin Wilkens scored on a one-yard run for City in the first half, but the Knights’ offense was grinded to a halt by a spirited Dunbar defense.
The Poets held City to 89 yards offense with Miquel Anderson recording a sack and Marvin Gross and Dorian Watters getting a ½ sack. Mikel Mayo and Aaron Haynes both had interceptions, and Joshua Davis added a fumble recovery.
“We started picking up on the quarterback read plays,” said Poets senior linebacker Andre Cunandin.”We shut it down for the rest of the night, and the offense started clicking.”
Dunbar’s offense wasn’t overwhelming, mostly because City’s defense, but was able to take advantage of opportunities. Holt (37 yards) scored on a 10-yard run to start the fourth quarter, completing a three-play drive set up by Mayo’s interception deep in Knights’ terrority.
City got the Poets’ 27 on the ensuing drive before failing to convert on fourth-and-long with a little over four minutes remaining in regulation. Dunbar was able to milk more than three minutes of the clock as Henriques, a transfer from Joppatowne, had 17 of his team-leading 60 yards in the drive.
“Epe showed up big tonight. He ran the ball well,” said Smith. “Coming from a Wing-T offense, we just want him to run downhill. He’s learning what to do.”
“It’s a work in progress,” Henriques said of the Poets’ offense. Smith said Dunbar has been working on keeping turnovers at a minimum since a mistake-filled showing in a loss to Patterson in week three.
It was ominous start Friday as the Poets’ fumble on a reverse play, and City linebacker Diamante Fox recovered and advanced the ball to Dunbar’s 12-yard line. Wilkens went around the right corner into the end zone, giving the Knights the early advantage.
The Poets went 51 yards in six plays as Henriques went up the middle for a nine-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, and ran in the two-point conversion. The squads each turned the ball over twice in the quarter, the last being a Wilkins’ fumble inside Dunbar’s 10 that was recovered by Smith with under a minute left.
Other than the stalled drive at Dunbar’s 27, City’s offense was punchless in the second half. The Knights came into Friday’s game averaging 35 points.
“Field position killed us in the second half,” said City coach George Petrides. “We couldn’t get our offense moving and most of that goes to Dunbar’s defense. They just played us tough.”
The Knights’ defense limited Dunbar to 115 yards as Da’Quan Smith and Charles Tapper each had an interception to go along with Fox’s fumble recovery. City now turn its attention to No. 15 Patterson next weekend in another key Division I matchup while Dunbar travels to winless Lake Clifton.
“Our goal right now is the city championship,” said Dunbar linebacker Travon Garrett. “Next goal, regional championship. Goal after that, the state championship at M&T Bank Stadium, our second home.”
CLICK RELATED VIDEOS AT TOP OF ARTICLE FOR POST-GAME INTERVIEWS
No. 16 Dunbar 14, No. 13 City College 6
City-Wilkens 1 run (pass failed)
Dunbar-Henriques 9 run (Henriques run)
Dunbar-Holt 10 run (run failed)