Dunbar linebacker Charles Brown proclaimed the Poets' defense just about perfect after Saturday night's 20-6 victory over Edmondson.
The No. 7 Poets held the Red Storm to minus-2 yards from scrimmage in the first half and didn't allow a first down until the last five minutes of the third quarter en route to winning their fifth straight Ben Eaton Memorial Trophy, named for the late Dunbar coach, at Poly's Lumsden-Scott Stadium.
"Defense is everything against a team like Edmondson," Brown said. "We gave up six points, and it really disturbed us. We like to have shutouts. But, all that six points is going to do is make us work six times harder."
The Poets have allowed just 28 points all season. They forced two turnovers Saturday night —on interceptions by Terrence Williams and Aaron Haynes — and didn't allow the Red Storm to gain much on the ground. Edmondson had 31 total carries for just 14 yards. Their leading rusher, Steve Everette, had 32 yards on 18 carries.
"They have a pretty good run system." Brown said of the Red Storm. "They can run the ball downhill. They run straight at you, a lot of power, but it's tough when you're going against a Dunbar defense."
Brown made a key play early in the fourth quarter with a tackle on Everette in the backfield to force a turnover on downs. That snuffed one of the few momentum shifts in Edmondson's favor after Eric Tate recovered a Dunbar fumble to set the Red Storm up on the Poets' 18-yard line.
On the next drive, the Poets went 89 yards in less than three minutes. Coleman Blackston, who gained the final 37 yards of the drive, scored on a six-yard run, and Lavar Highsmith ran in the two-point conversion to give Dunbar a 20-0 lead with 6:49 left in the third quarter.
Offensively, the Poets used their ground game to grind out yardage. Highsmith, who gained 99 yards on 15 carries, led a rushing contingent that included Brown (four carries for 36 yards), his younger brother Paki Brown (12 carries for 30 yards), Jaquan Holt (four carries for 27 yards) and Blackston (three carries, 37 yards).
"We try to keep our basic offense in, and that's smash-mouth football," Paki Brown said. "They couldn't stop our rushing game. Having multiple backs is very good, because when one back gets tired, another back comes it, and that's fresh legs. And we always thank our offensive line. Our O-line is everything to us."
That offensive line — Dariz Hill, Joshua Davis, Michael Carter, Malik Jones and Nicholas Bonaparte — plowed the way for a number of short gains and led the way for two first-half touchdowns on quarterback sneaks by William Crest, who ran seven times for 22 yards.
The Red Storm scored finally got on the board when quarterback Tyjuan Eaton hit Jaleel Sassafrass with a 46-yard touchdown pass with 5:36 left in the game. Edmondson's defense then held and took over again with about four minutes to go, but Haynes' interception with 2:46 left ended the Red Storm's comeback hopes.
"We've just got to get in sync," Edmondson coach Dante Jones said of his offense. "We've got to string some plays together and form some drives."
The victory boosts the Poets (5-1, 4-1 in Baltimore City's Division I) into second place behind undefeated Poly, whom they will face in two weeks. Edmondson (4-2, 3-2) drops into a tie for third place in the division.
No. 7 Dunbar 20, Edmondson 6
E 0 0 0 7 -- 7
D 0 12 0 8 -- 20
D—Crest 1 run (pass failed)
D—Crest 1 run (run failed)
D—Blackston 4 run (Highsmith run)
E—Sassafrass 46 pass from Eaton (run failed)