A Dunbar program known for its ability to put pressure on its opposition both offensively and defensively lived up to its reputation on Friday night in the 1A state quarterfinals, shutting out Perryville 38-0.
Poets’ quarterback Karon Moore set the tone with five total touchdowns, including the first touchdown reception of his career just before halftime that gave Dunbar a 30-point advantage at the break.
“It was the first time,” Moore said. “I got a touchdown pass from Crews [Harris]. It feels good. That’s good to have these opportunities to keep scoring and have five touchdowns. I had five touchdowns also two weeks ago. So, it feels good to keeping getting the opportunity.”
Two of Moore’s touchdown passes went to Tyreek Sykes, a receiver who has developed quite the connection with his quarterback.
“Me and Tyreek, he’s always telling me ‘Bro, bro, I’m open’,” Moore said. “Then he’ll turn his route and I’ll say ‘Yeah I see you.' Then when I say go, he’s wide open.”
After making a number of mistakes early in the first quarter, including penalties and an interception thrown by Moore, Dunbar settled in and responded with a blocked punt and a 43-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Khalil Bailey. Dion Crews-Harris punched in the subsequent 2-point conversion to give Dunbar a 8-0 lead at the end of the opening period.
Moore came out firing from the hip in the second quarter, tossing a 55-yard touchdown pass to Tyreek Sykes. The sophomore quarterback would toss another touchdown to Rashard Clayborn shortly after a Bailey interception. Moore finished the half with a 1-yard touchdown reception, with the pass coming from Crews-Harris.
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Going into the second half, Perryville drove down the field. Their attempt to score was thwarted by Dunbar’s Tyler Hood for an interception. The Poets turned that interception to a touchdown drive, being capped off by a pass from Moore to Sykes.
“We work hard in practice and it shows in the game,” Sykes said. “We stay together, we practice hard and we come out here and win. We all know if you get down, you start to play like you’re scared.
“So, you’ve got to keep your quarterback uplifted because he’s the heart of the team. You have to keep he and your team uplifted and that will bring the team a great win.”
The rest of the game featured a running clock and a number of stops by the Dunbar defense. Dunbar played a complete game on both sides of the ball — something that head coach Lawrence Smith has preached to his Poets all season.
“We were waiting for the game when offense and defense would finally show up together,” Smith said. “We haven’t had that all year, but these are the games where you want to see [it]. So, it’s a good job for that.”