Facing a third-and-goal and trailing by two points with one minute left, Poly coach Augie Waibel wanted to call a play-action pass.
But that choice presented some problems. A first-half downpour had turned the Forest Park field into a quagmire. The rain had picked up again, making the field even more slippery, but Waibel didn't waver.
"I never doubted it," he said.
Poly quarterback Dustin Jones and running back Willie Hudson then made the choice look good.
Jones softly tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Hudson with 52 seconds left to give No. 14 Poly a come-from-behind 28-22 victory over Forest Park in a Baltimore City 2A League game yesterday.
Waibel said he was very much aware of the weather but thought the play could work for Poly (1-2, 1-0) for a couple of reasons.
First, Jones only needed to throw the ball a few yards. Hudson did the rest, running it in just ahead of a crushing goal-line hit from Aaron Thompson. Waibel also noted the difficulty of covering a back coming out of the backfield.
"I knew we had a shot at it," said Waibel. "We figured with that play, it gave us a little bit more time."
Said Jones: "The rain made it harder, but I was trying to [do whatever] I had to."
Poly did whatever it had to to score its first victory. The Engineers spotted Forest Park (1-2, 0-2) a 14-point first-quarter lead before starting to roll.
And the Engineers got some help from their hosts. Three of the four Poly touchdowns came after Forest Park turnovers.
"Turnovers killed us," said Forest Park coach Obie Barnes. "Against an Augie Waibel Poly team, you just don't commit those turnovers."
Forest Park appeared in command early. Quarterback Adrian Griffin threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Thurmond, and Sharif Small scored on a 21-yard run for a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter.
But the downpour came moments later, and that seemed to awaken Poly.
Sparked by a 26-yard pass from Jones to Chris Barnes -- Obie's son -- the Engineers marched 60 yards on seven plays for their first score. Karlton Dunn went in from two yards, and Jones ran for the conversion to make it 14-8 early in the second quarter.
After both teams fumbled, Poly took advantage of the Forest Park miscue. After recovering a fumble at the Forest Park 40, Dunn scored two plays later on a 27-yard run to tie the score at 14.
Thurmond then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and Poly recovered LTC the Forest Park 7-yard line. Hudson gave Poly a 20-14 lead two plays later on a 3-yard run.
But the Foresters took the lead again thanks to another big play from Small (game-high 102 yards), who broke off a 66-yard touch down run. Thompson's conversion run gave Forest Park a 22-20 lead with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
The Foresters then held the ball for much of the fourth quarter. They ran 12 plays and moved into Poly territory once more before the Engineers recovered a bad snap at the Forest Park 41 with just under four minutes left. Jones and Barnes got the drive going when they hooked up again for a 22-yard pass. Five plays later, Jones and Hudson gave Poly the victory on third-and-goal from the Forest Park 8-yard line.
Waibel said that a loss would have made Poly 0-3 for the first time he could remember. He said the Engineers lost their first two to good teams -- Patterson and Friendly -- but there was not a lot of pressure to win this game.
But Obie Barnes said his team hoped for a victory. If the Foresters could have held on, it would have been the first time they had beaten Poly.
"We just didn't want it bad enough," said Barnes.