Poly's Jasmond Walker was one of the smallest players on the field yesterday, but the 5-foot-6 junior made the largest contribution in rallying the Engineers to an 18-17 victory over visiting Baltimore City West Division rival Forest Park.
Walker returned a third-quarter interception 20 yards, setting up his 2-yard scoring run that brought Poly (2-0 overall, 1-0 league) to within 7-6. And after Keon Jones blocked a field-goal attempt with 2 minutes, 50 seconds to play, Walker returned the ball 79 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
"I guess it was just a case of stepping into the right places at the right time," said the 165-pound Walker. "But Forest Park played a real good game."
Jones, who had three sacks, said, "We had some defensive breakdowns, but nobody's going to come to our house and do just what they want to do."
Quarterback Claude Davenport led a seven-play, 47-yard drive that put the Foresters (1-1, 1-1) ahead 17-12 with 5:50 left. Davenport's 25-yard pass to Joey Gordon set up Davenport's 5-yard scoring run.
Forest Park nearly put the game out of reach less than a minute later. Lineman Cornelius Moore recovered a fumble at Poly's 10, but with no one between him and the end zone, he took off in the wrong direction. He was brought down at the 14.
Poly had new life. After the blocked field-goal try and Walker's recovery and runback, Poly had the lead.
"We relaxed on [the field-goal try]," said Forest Park coach Obie Barnes. "When we get where we need to be mentally, we'll be OK."
The Foresters, overtime losers to Poly last fall, led 7-0 after Gordon caught a 48-yard halfback option pass from Aaron Ferrell early in the first quarter.
Moore (two sacks, one fumble recovery) led a Forest Park defense that kept Poly scoreless until Walker scored.
Forest Park expanded its lead to 10-6 with 2:45 left in the third quarter after Khamrae Johnson nailed a 37-yard field goal.
But the Engineers' defense came through yet again. Derrion Stackhouse's interception gave Poly a first down at Forest Park's 14. Facing fourth-and-six at Forest Park's 10 with 10:30 left, Poly went up 12-10 on Brett Diggs' scoring grab of a pass from Alimayo Wilder that glanced off Walker's hands.
"It was intended for Jasmond, but fortunately, I kept following the play," Diggs said. "By the grace of God, the ball came to me."