Nathan Ayers stood near midfield, flanked by coaches wrapping his bloodied left thumb, and confidently served notice to the rest of the local football world that No. 9 Dunbar isn't satisfied with three straight state titles.

"We're not going to let anybody take this from us," the senior running back said. "I won't be stopped."

On Saturday, Forestville found out first hand. Ayers rushed 23 times for a career-high 340 yards, scoring four touchdowns and three two-point conversions to lead the Poets out of an early hole to a 34-25 win in a Class 1A South semifinal at Poly.

Defensive end Darian Scott recorded three sacks and a pair of safeties for second-seeded Dunbar (10-1), which advances to this weekend's regional final at Poly. The Poets, who will face top-seeded Forest Park, are looking for their seventh straight regional title.

At times Saturday, those prospects looked doubtful.

Trailing the Prince George's County team, 12-0, nearing halftime, Dunbar changed the entire tenor of the game by switching to its version of the Wildcat offense, using it for the first time in earnest after inserting it two weeks ago.

Dubbed the "Wildowl" by assistant coach Travis Blackston - an homage to the school's logo - the Poets switched Ayers to quarterback, then allowed him to either run or hand off to sophomore LaVar Highsmith.

"Forestville didn't know what to do with it," Ayers said. "Our coach said that they kept going with [Highsmith], so I just cut it up. I faked it to him and kept going with it."

Prior to the switch, the Poets had gained just 51 yards on their first five possessions. After, they racked up 379 on seven, with Ayers gaining 288 yards on 14 carries, including touchdown runs of 42, 66, 33 and 20 yards.

Junior Rahmann Lee ran for 157 yards on 22 carries for the Knights (5-5), who had taken a 25-18 lead when Antonio Belt returned an interception 42 yards, and Lee ran it in from the 4.

Just moments later, however, Ayers put Dunbar on top, 26-25, with a 33-yard touchdown run, followed by a two-point conversion through the right side of the line. Scott then extended the lead by tackling punter Belt in the end zone after a high snap, and Ayers put the game out of reach by breaking loose for a 57-yard run to set up his 20-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession.

F 6 6 0 13 - 25 D 0 8 10 16 - 34

F-Lee 3 run (kick failed)

F-Pinkett 5 run (run failed)

D-Ayers 42 run (Ayers run)

D-Safety (Scott tackles Belt in endzone)

D-Ayers 66 run (Ayers run)

F-Wood 26 pass from Smith (Lopez kick)

F-Lee 4 run (run failed)

D-Ayers 33 run (Ayers run)

D-Safety (Scott tackles Belt in endzone)

D-Ayers 20 run (run failed)

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