Unlike a year ago, there was no playoff berth on the line in Saturday's 127th City-Poly football game.
That seemed to matter little to City senior Dre'Shawn Winston after a 42-6 win before 6,333 at M&T Bank Stadium. Clutching the winners' trophy, the 6-foot-2 running back basked in the Knights' first four-game winning streak in the series since the 1960s.
"It means a lot to us, and a lot to the alumni — the people who came before us," Winston said of what is believed to be the nation's second-oldest continual public-school football rivalry. "To make history today is an awesome feeling."
It was City's second-most lopsided victory in series history, tying wins of 44-8 in 2006 and 42-6 win in 1966. Only City's 46-point victory in 1965 was more one-sided.
First-year coach Daryl Wade, a former assistant who took over for 40-year coach George Petrides this fall, also became the first African-American coach to guide his team to a win in the series, which Poly leads 62-59-6.
In an otherwise forgettable season, the win gave City (5-5) something to remember.
"We had a rough season, so for the kids to come out and play the way they did, it was just really good," Wade said. "It showed that we got better as the season went on."
The Knights dominated from the outset. Led by Winston (18 carries for 112 yards and three touchdowns) and 235-pound sophomore Jamaine Jeter (19 carries for 107 yards and two touchdowns), City finished with 352 yards of offense, time and again winning the battles up front and sustaining long drives.
"That was the game plan," Wade said. "I scouted them a couple times, and I felt like we could pound the ball."
City scored the first 34 points, keeping Poly (3-7) off the board until early in the fourth quarter.
On the game's opening drive, the Knights drove 70 yards on 14 rushing plays, taking a 6-0 lead when Jeter scored from a yard out.
After a pair of personal fouls derailed Poly's opening drive, City picked up where it left off, using the powerful tandem of Jeter and Winston to pick up large chunks of yardage. The Knights took a 14-0 lead on Winston's 9-yard run up the middle with 11:47 left in the half and subsequent 2-point conversion.
The Knights then held Poly to a three-and-out and again rode the hard running of Winston deep into Engineers territory before quarterback Tyler Woodard found 6-foot-3 senior Na'Shon Godfrey down the sideline for a 26-yard score.
Down 20-0 late in the first half, Poly had a golden chance to go into the locker room with momentum, getting to City's 4-yard line on Antoine Guy's 21-yard pass to receiver Garland White.
With the final seconds of the half ticking away, however, the Engineers ran the ball, and senior Isaiah Hayes got stopped at the 1. By the time Poly hustled back to the line, time had expired, and any momentum was gone.
City put the game out of reach with long drives on each of its first two possessions of the second half, using 1-yard plunges by Winston and Jeter to extend its lead to 34-0.
"We prepared for what they do, and that didn't change much. But they were just able to move the ball on us," Poly coach Dwayne Green said. "They had substantial drives, and that ate up the clock. They put us behind and … controlled the game with the ball."
City played competitively with tough opponents this season, hanging with Edmondson and Mervo before falling.
On this day, however, the Knights finally found a reason to celebrate.
"They'll remember this for a lifetime. They can tell their grandchildren about it," Wade said. "We talked about it all week long. They wanted it, and they took it."