Dunbar's football team may need a while to get its new offense running smoothly, but the defense can handle things in the meantime.
The No. 7 Poets dominated the line of scrimmage and allowed City's only touchdown on an interception return en route to an 18-6 victory over the Knights in a Baltimore City Division I game played under the lights Saturday at Poly.
The Poets got an 18-point jump on the Knights and, despite turning the ball over five times, held on with a defense that smothered City to the point where it never found any offensive momentum.
"Their defense, that's what happened," City coach George Petrides said. "We threw the house at them. We tried to run it right at them. We tried the short pass. We tried the long pass. They're very athletic on defense."
Aaron Haynes provided a spark on both sides for the Poets (2-1 overall, 1-1 division), making two interceptions and scoring two touchdowns, one on an interception return.
"Because of the incident in the first game, we got a week off, a nice week of rest and a nice week of scouting against City," Haynes said, referring to the bench-clearing brawl two weeks ago at the I-95 Kickoff Classic game against Dunbar (D.C.) that resulted in the Poets forfeiting last week's game against Southwestern. "So we felt like everything that they were coming at us with, we already knew,"
The Poets scored all their points in the first half, thanks to their defense and special teams.
The first touchdown — a nine-yard run by Lavar Highsmith with 5:02 remaining in the first quarter — came after a blocked punt. Coleman Blackston recovered the ball on the Knights' 21-yard line, and four plays later Smith took it into the end zone.
City (1-1 overall and division) stopped the Poets on their second drive of the second quarter when Derrell Shelton recovered a fumbled snap with 8:47 to go, but Dunbar turned that around when Haynes picked off the Knights' next pass and ran it back 40 yards for a 12-0 Poets' lead.
Haynes, a wide receiver and defensive back, then made his mark on offense, hauling in a 39-yard pass from William Crest to push Dunbar's lead to 18-0 with 1:17 left in the half.
It looked good for the Poets to take a shutout into the break after Haynes made another interception with 22 seconds to go in the half. But the Knights quickly atoned for that when Steffen Wilkens intercepted Crest's pass and put the Knights on the board with three seconds left before the half.
"Our offensive coordinator, Travis Blackston, asked our head coach, Lawrence Smith, did we want to take a knee and go into the half 18-0," said Highsmith, a senior running back. "Knowing how big our coach is on wanting us to beat people, he decided to go for it, and I guess the quarterback made a bad read. It gave them a little bit of momentum, but at the same time, we bounced back."
The Poets had a chance to add to their score in the second half, but penalties hurt their forward momentum on several plays and wiped out DeonTay McManus' 49-yard punt return to the end zone late in the third quarter
No. 7 Dunbar 18, City 6
D - 6 12 0 0 -- 18
C - 0 6 0 0 -- 6
D—Highsmith 9 run, pass failed
D—Haynes 40 int. ret., run failed
D—Haynes 39 pass from Crest, run failed
C—Wilkens 35 int. ret., kick failed