For City, the moment wasn’t too big. In fact, it felt just about right.
Despite limping into its 130th annual matchup with archrival Poly with six losses in seven games, the Knights stepped up on their largest stage, forcing seven turnovers and trudging through wet conditions to erase an early deficit with 32 straight points in a 32-14 win.
The victory tied the all-time series (62-62-6) before a soaked crowd at Morgan State University.
“The defense meant a lot for us today," City quarterback Michael Bond said. "They made a statement. They started the game with a couple turnovers, and that got us the momentum.”
City now has won seven straight in a series that stands as the oldest high school football rivalry in Baltimore and what's believed to be the second-longest continuous public-school rivalry in the country, behind only the Boston Latin School and the English High School of Boston.
The Knights' only longer winning streak against Poly is believed to have come at the very beginning, when the Knights took 17 straight to open the series starting in 1889, though no official records were kept until 1904. Poly also won 17 straight over City from 1970-1986.
“I'm proud of these kids," City coach Michael Hamilton said. "Seven in a row is the most in this series [modern day], and I'm especially proud being a City alum.”
This one was far different than the past two years, when quarterback Michael Bond accounted for the winning score late each time, as City won by a total of six points.
This year, sophomore running back Dominic Hill ran for 104 of City's 206 total yards on offense, including a 64-yard run on the first play of the second half that set up DaMontae Martin's 4-yard touchdown run, extending City's lead to 20-6.
Later, Darius Hill's 55-yard punt return to the 5 set up Bond's 1-yard sneak, and the rout was on.
The win helped City improve to 3-7 in a game played for the first time since 2002 away from M&T Bank Stadium (then known as Ravens Stadium).
With heavy rain pounding the field, neither team found much of an offensive flow in the first half, combing for 95 yards on the game's first nine possessions.
Even so, Poly took the early lead, thanks to its defense.
After a punt pinned City at its own 3, the Engineers' Bryan Bagley picked off Bond's third-and-12 pass at the 18, and returned it to the 1. On the next play, quarterback Mervyn Thomas-Crawford scored on a keeper, and Kamani Larmouth took in the two-point conversion to make it 8-0.
But City's defense soon turn the tide, forcing a fumble and nabbing a three interceptions to end drives.
Following Kevin Couser's fumble recovery at the Poly 27, Andrew Coleman recovered his teammates fumbled in the end zone for at TD and then caught a pass for the tying two-point conversion with 1:29 left in the first quarter.
Then, on Poly's next possession, corner Javanni Plummer picked off Thomas Crawford's pass at the 40, then cut right and returned it 60 yards for the go-ahead score. The conversion run failed.
City's Jordan Burden and Coleman each added interceptions near the goal line to keep the Engineers out of the endzone for the remainder of the half.
Thomas-Crawford later added Poly's other score on a six-yard run.
Poly; 8; 0; 0; ; --; 14
City; 8; 6; 6; 12; --; 32
P — Thomas-Crawford1 run (Larmouth run)
C — Coleman fumble recovery (Bond pass to Coleman)
C — Plummer 60 interception return (run failed)
C — Martin 4 run (pass failed)
C — Bond 1 run (kick failed)
C — Baltimore 9 run (kick failed)
P — Thomas-Crawford 6 run (pass failed)