Those who know football will tell you it's a game of adjustments. City quarterback Troy Robinson found that out first hand on Saturday in the Knights' 36-14 win over rival Poly in the 125th edition of the City-Poly game at M&T Bank Stadium.
After getting few first half opportunities, Robinson finished with three rushing touchdowns and passed for another to lead the Knights (8-2). He also contributed 44 yards on the ground, second to running back Davon Collins, who added 82 yards on 22 carries.
City cut into the Engineers (6-4) lead in the series between the teams. Poly now holds a 62-57-6 lead, but the Knights have won two straight.
The beginning of the game did not suggest it would turn into a blowout. The Engineers ran all over City in the first half, with running back Asaan Glover gaining 99 yards. The rushing attack allowed Poly to run 44 plays compared to City's 14 in the first half, and go into the locker room tied, 8-8.
The second half was a different story.
"We were fortunate to be tied at the half," said Knights coach George Petrides. "[Defensive Coordinator] Daryl [Wade] made some great adjustments at halftime, and our quarterback played a great second half."
The adjustment Wade made, placing eight and nine men closer to the line of scrimmage, began to pay immediate dividends for City. The Knights held Poly to two three-and-outs to begin the half, and then Robinson started to heat up. The senior led a six-play, 49-yard scoring drive in the later part of the third quarter to give the Knights a 14-8 lead. He called his own number twice on the drive, contributing a 21-yard run, and a 10-yard touchdown run with 2:32 left.
"They were running the ball down our throats [in the first half], and we knew it was gut-check time for us," Robinson said. "All week they talked on Twitter about how they were better than us. We just shut up and talked with our pads in the second half."
The Knights used a turnover to set up their next score. As Poly quarterback Travis Cook, Jr. dropped back to pass, the ball was knocked out of his hand and recovered by City's Shaquille McCoy at the Poly 23. Seven plays later, Robinson called his own number again, this time on fourth and 3, to score from five yards out and increase City's lead to 22-8 with 10:21 left.
The Knights also scored on their next two possessions, on a 1-yard run by Dre-Shawn Winston and a 13-yard run by Robinson, to run the score to 36-8.
Poly closed out the scoring with 1:25 left when Ralkwan Jones caught a 24-yard pass from John Steele. Glover finished with 10 yards in the second half.
"Every team we play is bigger than we are, and they try to pound us. It was like old Augie Waibel football," said Petrides, referring to his longtime rival coach at Poly. "For us to be successful, we have to make adjustments, and we did. These kids are the most overachieving team that I've ever had in all my years of coaching."
Glover said the Engineers didn't match City's intensity in the second half.
"They made adjustments, and we didn't adjust well to what they did in the second half," said Glover, who finished with 109 yards on 29 carries. "We weren't consistent on offense, and our intensity slacked up. We never reverted back to the team we were in the first half."
C 8 0 6 22 -- 36
P 0 8 0 6 -- 14
C – Garvey 8 pass from Robinson (Robinson run)
P – Glover 7 run (Glover run)
C – Robinson 10 run (run failed)
C – Robinson 5 run (Garvey pass from Robinson)
C – Winston 1 run (Robinson run)
C – Robinson 13 run (run failed)
P – Jones 24 pass from Steele (pass failed)