No. 16 Dunbar crushes City in city football league opener; Graham rushes for 175 yards

Dunbar’s Alphonso Graham breaks off a run during the first half of Friday’s Baltimore City Division I football match with City. The senior finished with 175 yards, including scoring runs of 54 and 58 yards as the No. 16 Poets cruised to a 40-0 decision at Petrides Stadium. (photo by Jimmy Fields Jr.)

by Donald Daniels

Once the dominant entity in Baltimore City football’s upper division, Dunbar High has been outside looking in the past couple of seasons. The Poets want to change that.

No. 16 Dunbar blanked City College, 40-0, in the Division I opener for both squads at newly-named George Petrides Stadium Friday afternoon. Senior running back Alphonso Graham rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns, and Jared Lewis threw for three scores for the Poets.

The Orleans Street school built a 34-0 halftime advantage, avenging a 20-19 loss to the Knights last season. The Poets had won nine straight against their Alameda rival.

“This was a big win for us,” Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith said. “We need to have a good week of practice because we have to get as many points as possible from the bigger schools.”

The Poets (2-1 overall, 1-0 Division I) are back in the Class 1A classification after being Class 2A the past four years. Dunbar lost in the state semifinals in 2016 (eventual state champ Walkersville) and 2015 (eventual state champ Patuxent) after reaching the state final in 2014 (lost to Douglass-Prince George’s).

After a defensive collapse in its season debut against Allegany (49-42 loss), Dunbar bottled up the Knights Friday. Defensive end Dwayne Johnson had three sacks and three tackles for a loss.

The Poets’ offense put up three scores before recording a first down Friday. A punt return set Dunbar up at City’s 21-yard line and Lewis threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Wood.

After the defense forced a three-and-out, Dunbar (2-1) quickly responded with a 56-yard touchdown run down the sidelines from Graham, putting the visitors up 14-0 within the first four minutes of action. Graham weaved his way past several City defenders for 58-yard touchdown, capping off a three-play drive.

“The guys were just working so hard up front and I just able to holes and explode right through them,” Graham said.

The Poets put together a six-play, 92-yard drive in the second, capped with Lewis connecting with Malik McCormack on a corner fade from 13 yards. McCormack and Lewis highlighted the drive with a 38-yard pass play.

“We just did a good job of establishing the line of scrimmage and that allowed us to rip off the big plays,” Smith said.

Dunbar stayed aggressive as Lewis threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Wood with 1 minute, 28 seconds left in the first half, followed with a Lewis pass to Jordan Graham for the two-point conversion. Wood hauled in two scoring passes from Lewis, who threw for 188 yards.

The Poets, who host three-time reigning city champ and 11th-ranked Mervo next Friday at Sugar Cain Field, held the Knights (1-1, 0-1 Division I) to under 180 yards of offense. City reached the red zone only twice, with both of those drives derailed on fourth and long.

“It’s only one loss and it is a long season,” City coach Daryl Wade said. “We won’t see to many teams quite like Dunbar.”

Dunbar 40, City College 0

Dunbar 20 14 0 6 – 40

City College 0 0 0 0 – 0

First quarter

Dunbar – Lewis 21 pass from Wood (Brandon run)

Dunbar – Graham 54 run (run failed)

Dunbar – Graham 58 run (run failed)

Second quarter

Dunbar – McCormack 13 pass from Lewis (pass failed)

Dunbar – Wood 24 pass from Lewis (Graham pass from Lewis)

Fourth quarter

Dunbar – Tolbert run (kick failed)