Despite its mistake- and penalty-filled first half Thursday that ended with two turnovers and an eight-point deficit, the Edmondson football team was confident. The Red Storm just had to stop beating themselves.
“The first half, we just shot ourselves in the foot with so many penalties,” Edmondson coach Corey Johnson said. “We had opportunities that went away because we had so many holdings, personal fouls, unsportsmanlikes. We said at halftime, ‘We can’t play ourselves and our opponent.’”
His players listened. Behind junior running back Kevin Martin and a punishing rushing attack, the Red Storm dominated the second half on the way to a 32-22 victory over the Engineers to stay undefeated in Baltimore City Division I play with two games remaining.
After trailing 14-6 at halftime, the Red Storm outscored the Engineers 26-8 in the second half.
“We needed to fix what we were doing ourselves, and so I challenged our offensive line,” Johnson said after several holding penalties called on Edmondson (7-1, 5-0 city) negated big gains in the first half. “We couldn’t keep get holding calls. We couldn’t keep going backwards. They were playing us in two-high [safety coverage], taking away our big-play receivers, so we knew we had the opportunity to run the ball and get positive yards without having a penalty.”
Trailing 14-6 with the ball in Engineers territory after forcing a three-and-out on Poly’s first second-half possession, Martin broke off a 33-yard run, electrifying what had been a frustrated and quiet sideline for much of the first half. Trejour Owens scored on a 5-yard run on the next play, pulling the Red Storm to within 14-12 with 9:05 left in the third quarter.
“That really lifted the sidelines up,” Johnson said of Martin’s run. “We got it to 14-12 and I think it energized the guys that we were back in it and [showed] this is what we knew we could do against them.”
Martin proved it. After a 20-yard catch by senior wide receiver Adrian Lindsey on first down, Martin darted up the middle, broke a few tackles and outran Poly defenders to the end zone for a 62-yard touchdown run, giving the Red Storm a 20-14 lead with 5:52 remaining in the third quarter.
“We had to keep working and I had to run harder than I did the first half,” Martin said. “We talked to the O-line and told them we had to get better if we wanted to be city champs, and that’s what we did.”
On the second play of Poly’s ensuing possession, Edmondson safety Malik Taylor intercepted a pass from Jermaine Harvey, who was making his second start in place of the injured DeVone Stubbs, and returned the ball into Engineers territory.
Sensing an opportunity to swing momentum even further toward the Red Storm, quarterback Damontaa Johns hit a wide-open Taylor for a 35-yard touchdown pass down the right sideline, pushing Edmondson’s lead to 26-14 after a failed 2-point try.
That two-play sequence sealed the game for Edmondson, which has games against No. 11 Dunbar and No. 15 Mervo remaining with a chance to claim the city title.
“We thought that we could catch them by surprise there after we hit ’em with the run, and so we finally broke one and got over the top,” Johnson said. “We wanted to take a shot there.”
For Poly and coach Dwayne Green, the second-half avalanche was a frustrating finish for a team that had to win to keep its playoff hopes alive. Quron Winder had a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first half and added an 11-yard touchdown catch over three defenders to cut the deficit to 26-22 early in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough for Poly, which fell to 2-5, 1-4.
“We played half a game. That’s what I’ll say. We played half a game,” Green said. “We saw some things that were working and we attacked. Of course they made adjustments, but we still had opportunities. We just didn’t take advantage of them.”
Edmondson 32, Poly 22
E -- 6 0 20 6
P -- 8 6 0 8
E -- Johns 1 run (run failed)
P -- Hines 10 run (Bethel pass from Harvey)
P -- Winder 70 INT return (run failed)
E -- Owens 9 run (run failed)
E -- Martin 62 run (Lindsey pass from Johns)
E -- Taylor 35 pass from Johns (run failed)
P -- Winder 11 pass from Harvey (Hines run)
E -- Owens 8 pass from Johns (run failed)