Poly ends No. 1 City's streak at 29 Kyler's late TD catch lifts No. 2 Engineers, 21-20 Football


This time, Greg Kyler didn't let a crucial pass slip away.

With 25 seconds left in yesterday's City League 3A championship game against top-ranked City, the Poly wing back's diving catch of a 24-yard pass from Charles English -- inches inside the back of the end zone -- lifted the No. 2 LTC Engineers (9-0) to a 21-20 win.

The victory, before 10,000 boisterous spectators crammed into Morgan State University's Hughes Stadium, ended City's winning streak at 29. It also raised Poly's advantage to 51-48-6 in their 105th meeting.

"That was a perfect pass," said City coach George Petrides, "and that's what it took to win."

City (9-1) -- which trailed 15-0 with 4:18 left in the half -- came back within 15-14 behind quarterback Teron Matthews (11 of 18, 159 yards), who threw touchdowns strikes of 12 yards and 41 yards to Jimmy Lewis and Kevin Griffin in the second and third quarters, respectively.

Kyler's effort also overshadowed an excellent performance by City wide receiver Dwight Banks, who returned a punt 50 yards for his 13th touchdown to give the Knights a 20-15 lead at 8:01 of the third quarter.

Banks (five receptions, 83 yards) accounted for 109 of the Knights' 302 yards of offense. Teammate Ricky Dangerfield carried 12 times for 93 yards but didn't score.

Banks' conversion catch in the end zone was ruled out of bounds after the Knights' second touchdown. And in the series leading to City's first score, Banks' touchdown reception attempt was disallowed from the same spot.

"Those calls were very big, but we can't blame the game on that, because we made a couple of mental errors ourselves," said Banks, who also made his sixth interception of the season.

Poly is the top seed heading into next weekend's 3A state playoffs. City entered the game as the fifth seed in the eight-team field.

"Hopefully, we can meet them again in a few weeks," said Petrides. "Our team could have been behind by three touchdowns, but we fought back. This has been the most classic game of all the ones I've been associated with."

Kyler erased the memory of last year's 20-0 loss to City. In that game, he was all alone 10 yards from the end zone but dropped a first-quarter pass with his team trailing 8-0.

"This was smash-mouth football," said Kyler. "This was a great game, and I'm just glad we came out on top."

Kyler finished with 17 carries for 111 of the Engineers' 262 total yards. His 16th touchdown of the season from 9 yards at 8:29 of the second quarter -- coupled with an extra-point kick from Brian Scott -- capped a 14-play, 72-yard drive to give Poly a 7-0 lead.

Poly's 15-0 lead was built by turning two of three interceptions by Robert Maddox into touchdowns, with the first pickoff setting up Kyler. His second, which he returned 48 yards to the City 12, set up Randy Beamon's 4-yard touchdown run four plays later.

City made it 15-8 after English (6 of 10, 75 yards) fumbled and the Knights' Hayes Gaines recovered at his own 32.

Seven plays and 68 yards later, Lewis caught the ball between two defenders and landed just inside the goal line. Banks made a conversion catch of a pass that was tipped by a defender.

"If we don't fumble the snap, it [the game] is not as close as it was," said Poly coach Augie Waibel. "I guess that's the way the man upstairs wanted it to be."

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