City and Poly came into Saturday’s game tied 62-62-6 in the all-time series. The Black Knights now hold the upper hand after the 131st game of the rivalry, thanks to a a 10-6 win over Poly in a game at Morgan State’s Hughes Stadium.
This is City’s eighth consecutive win in the series and first time leading the matchup since the 1970s. For coach Michael Hamilton, it’s a dream come true to see his team finally take the lead.
“It tremendous,” Hamilton said. “I’m actually losing my voice. There was nothing more that I wanted than to do this today. We’ve had a rough season, up and down, but this is the one that counts. This is the one that memories and dreams are made of. I’m happy that in the record books, my name will be as the coach as the one that broke that tie.”
Led by co-players of the game, linebacker Kevin Couser and defensive end Tim Bethea, as well as defensive tackle Darius Johnson, the City defense generated four turnovers. This was all in a week where City (5-4) lost 10 players to suspension (one starter) after last Friday’s fight with Digital Harbor.
“We got some help from our coaches and players,” Johnson said. “We did good — I just have to give it up to our entire defense. It’s a family around here. We just have to do what we’ve got to do and that’s play as a team. Our defense works hard every week.
“I’m just so proud of our defense and our coach [defensive coordinator Rodney L. Joyner]. He’s the best coach that we’ve ever had. We just have to give it up to our coach and work on our offense a little bit. That’s just something we’ll have to work on at practice.”
The first half was marred by turnovers for both teams with Poly’s first pass being picked off by City. It was the first of six turnovers in the first half, ending unceremoniously with a 0-0 tie.
Things changed in the second half with Poly running back Tykeem Valentine scoring on a rushing touchdown. Poly’s two-point conversion was no good and they led with 5:49 left in the third quarter.
The Engineers (1-8) picked off City backup quarterback Jordan Burden, but had their punt blocked. After a long rush by junior running back Dominic Hill, City punched the ball into the end zone with a quarterback sneak by Alton Foreman. City converted the two-point attempt to take an 8-6 lead going into the fourth quarter.
With time winding down for Poly, the Engineers took a sack in their own end zone for a safety, giving City the 10-6 lead with 2:39 left.
The win will most likely put the Black Knights into the Class 3A playoffs. Hamilton thinks his team’s defense can put them in a great position to win.
“The defense I think will still hold their own,” Hamilton said. “We’ll get some of the people back. What we have to put emphasis on is getting our offense up to speed again. We could put points on the board, we have miscues every now and then, but we can do that. We just just have got to do that going forward.”