Dunbar junior linebacker Tommy Polley stood near midfield at Poly's stadium acting as if he owned the place. He spoke confidently as he looked up at the scoreboard, which read: Dunbar 26, Poly 6.
"I said we would win and my prediction came true," said Polley, a second-team All-Metro pick. "The name of the game today was big plays and defense."
Sparked by sophomore Alli Culpepper's game-opening 93-yard kickoff return for a 6-0 lead, coupled with the explosive running of Loyola transfer Reggie Boyce (six carries, 112 yards, one touchdown), the fifth-ranked Poets built an 18-0 lead en route to a convincing victory over the No. 2 Engineers.
The win is believed to be the first in nearly 20 seasons by a city public school other than City over an Augie Waibel-coached Engineers team. Northwestern did it in 1975.
"They came in here to win and they won convincingly," said Waibel, whose team suffered its worst defeat since a 20-0 loss to City in 1992.
Dunbar quarterback Anthony Wiggins, who collapsed complaining of pains in his head and jaw after the game, was taken from the field by ambulance to Union Memorial Hospital. He was treated and released last night.
Dunbar (2-0) amassed 167 yards of offense, mostly from Boyce, who scored the Poets' final touchdown from 64 yards on Dunbar's initial play of the second half. Terrence Hinton ran the conversion for the final margin of victory with 8:49 left in the third period.
"Terrance hit the linebacker. And when the safety went right, I just turned left and kept running," said Boyce. "The last guy tried to arm-tackle me at about the 10, but I side-stepped him."
The Engineers (2-1) consumed the next eight minutes but
covered only 30 yards before turning the ball over on downs. Similarly, trailing, 6-0, in the first period, they failed to capitalize on Boyce's fumble.
Though Dunbar's defense flexed, it didn't break until Randall Beamon's 54-yard score with 3:15 left in the first half made it 18-6.
Poly had 164 yards of offense, led by Martin Prosper (five receptions, 51 yards) and Beamon (21 carries, 147 yards), who by halftime had single-handedly out-gained the entire Dunbar offense, 102-86.
"They were moving the ball well on us in the first half, but Coach [Stanley Mitchell] told us to start attacking the gaps," said Dunbar defensive tackle Shamai Butler. "That helped us to stop their run and to get their quarterback."
Butler had 2 1/2 sacks, and Polley had 1 1/2 sacks to raise his career total to 26 1/2 . Dante Jones also had a sack, and Lance Askins had a touchdown-saving interception to end the first half.
Boyce made up for his first-quarter fumble by recovering Beamon's fumbled punt at the Poly's 41 early in the second period.
Three plays later, Wiggins (2-for-5, 51 yards) tossed a 40-yard pass to Gary Smith, who was all alone near the Poly 10. Smith made an off-balance grab, bobbling the ball all the way to the 1 before hauling it in.
Terrence Hinton bulled his way over two plays later, giving Dunbar a 12-0 lead with 8:09 in the half.
"We made too many mistakes on punts and kickoffs," Waibel said. "And I don't know why, since we work on our kicking game more than anyone else."
Dunbar got the ball again after stopping Poly's ensuing possession for minus-3 yards.
After Darnell Duzurn got one of his two sacks against Wiggins -- this one for a 10-yard loss to Poly's 48 -- Boyce stormed up the middle, shedding four tacklers before being brought down at the Dunbar 4.
Culpepper ran twice, the second time for the 1-yard score, to put the Poets up, 18-0, with 3:56 left in the half.