Poly's offense overcame a double handicap in yesterday's 7-0 victory at No. 3 Gilman.
The No. 2 Engineers' second-team All-Metro lineman, Joe Brown, was out with a sprained knee. Star running back Greg Kyler was hampered by leg cramps midway through the third period.
None of that mattered with 1:34 left in the game, however, when Kyler's 9-yard sprint capped a 12-play, 52-yard drive. His 14th touchdown of the season, coupled with Brian Scott's extra-point kick, secured the win before a homecoming crowd estimated at more than 3,000.
"We missed Joe because he had great leadership, but our linemen, Warren Chambers, Gary Becker and Dwayne Bey, they stuck it out with me," said Kyler (6 feet 2, 180 pounds), who runs a 4.3-second 40-yard --. "Even though I yelled at them sometimes, they came through on that last play. I love them for that."
Gilman (5-1) got the ball back on its 35, but was stopped by Poly's defense.
Linebacker Rashaad Kitchen swatted away a second-down pass Mark Cornes before getting his second sack of the game.
Then Cornes fumbled nine yards behind the scrimmage line after a hit by Jeryl Parham, who also recovered the ball. Poly ran out the game's remaining 40 seconds.
"They knew what our defense was about, but they couldn't run or pass," said Kitchen. "We just went out there and stopped them."
A heads-up, 17-yard reception by Arthur Peace at the Gilman 9 sustained Poly's final drive.
Poly (8-0) faced a fourth-and-seven at Gilman's 26 when a pass by Charles English (five of 11, 67 yards) was tipped at the 15 by teammate Quorey Paige before Peace hauled it in.
"We showed we could move the ball without Kyler and Brown. This proves a couple of things to a lot of people," said Poly coach Augie Waibel.
Waibel credited English (24 yards), and running backs Louie Randall (42) and Randy Beamon (22) for their running, adding "we got down inside their 20 so many times I was about to jump over the bleachers."
Poly had been stopped four times inside the Gilman 30 -- twice inside the 10 -- by a defense led by Than'l Badder (25 tackles), Jamie Biddison (24), Dylan Schlott (18) and Peter Bogue (12).
The Engineers' game-opening drive covered 53 yards in 16 plays before ending at the Gilman 20 on Damion Pizzaro's interception. In the second quarter, Paige caught a pass at the Gilman 12 but fumbled on a hit by Bogue, who recovered at the 6.
And Schlott's third-quarter fumble recovery halted Poly at the Gilman 4 after a drive that began on the Greyhounds' 29 and got as far as the 1.
On that drive, Kyler (37 yards, 13 carries) limped off the field. He has 776 rushing yards on the season, but was held to 85 of the Engineers' 205 total yards.
"I hate losing more than anything, but I'm happy with the way we played," said Badder, who also had two sacks and a fumble recovery. "Our defense was incredible today. We just couldn't transfer it from defense to offense."
Gilman's offense got beyond midfield just twice -- late in the first period and early in the second -- each time to the Poly 45.
Though Gilman was without its top rusher, 6-1, 200-pound David Biddison (360 yards, four touchdowns) due to an ankle injury, coach Sherm Bristow blamed the team's lack of production on poor field position.
"We were always up against it in terms of field position, never getting the ball where we wanted," Bristow said. "We always seemed to get it with about 80 yards to go, and they always got it with about 40 yards to go."