After a tough loss in its opener, Dunbar has turned around its season by reeling off two consecutive wins, including a 36-6 rout of host Reginald F. Lewis on Friday afternoon.
Led by quarterback Tyreek Sykes’ three touchdown passes, the Poets marched to victory and seem to have righted the ship since a season-opening, six-point loss against Mervo in the Kickoff Classic.
Sykes, who looks like a natural in the pocket, is fairly new to playing quarterback, having been a wide receiver at the beginning of the season.
“I figured that I needed to help my team out and pretty much, that’s what I had to do,” Sykes said. “We had some struggles at the beginning of the season – people leaving and transferring in and out. So, I just felt like I had to help my team.”
Moving Sykes from wide receiver to quarterback was a no-brainer, according to Dunbar coach Lawrence Smith.
“We needed a spark in the second half,” Smith said. “When we played Mervo in the first quarter — first half — we couldn’t move the ball at all. We knew that he [Sykes] could do it. So we moved him over there and that’s why we were able to come back in that first game. He’s just been rolling ever since.”
Lewis broke on top for the only score of the first quarter when running back Khalil Reed recovered his own fumble for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead.
Things turned around for Dunbar almost immediately in the second quarter with Sykes’ 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Khalil Bailey, followed by running back Dion Crews-Harris’ 2-yard plunge for the two-point conversion.
Dunbar struck again with a 50-yard pass from Sykes to Rashard Clayborn that set up a touchdown pass from Sykes to Clayborn for a 14-6 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Sykes hit Bailey for his third touchdown pass. He made the quick-witted decision to get the team to the line of scrimmage with a Lewis cornerback out of place for the touchdown. Crews-Harris threw a jump pass to Joshua Carr for the conversion.
Defensive tackle Diallo Gainey added a strip sack and took the ball for a 20-yard fumble recovery and touchdown. The last two scores of the game came on a 53-yard touchdown rush and two-point conversion by Justin Black to give Dunbar the 36-6 win.
Lewis made a number of special teams guffaws in the game, including fumbles and bad punts, giving Dunbar strong field position.
“We just have to play two halves of football,” Lewis coach Dominic Howard said. “We had a really good and exciting first half. Then we came out in the second half and had a special teams mishap so it gave us bad field position. The bad field position kind of made the game turn around and it gave Dunbar momentum going into the second half.”