Baltimore City schools officials are still working to find a date and place to finish Friday night’s suspended football game between No. 6 Dunbar and No. 10 Mervo.
The Baltimore City fire marshal stopped the sold-out game in the third quarter because so many people were around the perimeter of the stadium that emergency vehicles and personnel could not have navigated the area.
Baltimore Police said “multiple fights” broke out in the crowd, although reports of a gun that set off a brief panic for about 20 to 30 minutes after the game were unfounded.
Monday morning, Edie House-Foster, spokeswoman for the Baltimore City Public Schools, said “our athletic staff is working to reschedule the game.”
By 3:30 p.m. Monday, there had been no decision, but Mervo coach and athletic director Patrick Nixon said it would not be completed Monday.
The highly anticipated game between Baltimore City’s top two public school teams featured two undefeated squads. Dunbar’s win in last year’s game earned the Poets the city Division I championship, and they went on to win the Class 1A state championship. Mervo just missed qualifying for the Class 4A regional playoffs.
Friday night after the game was called and most of the stadium cleared, something happened just outside the main gate that sent dozens of people racing across the field toward Hillen Road.
There were reports of a gun, although no shots were fired. T.J. Smith, spokesman for Baltimore City Police, said no gun was found. Baltimore City schools police did not see a gun either, House-Foster said.
No arrests were made and no injuries were reported by city schools police, House-Foster said, adding that Baltimore City police handled the crowd outside the stadium.
Nixon, who was near the gate when the panic began, said there were “hundreds” of people still hanging around outside the gate. By that time, Dunbar’s team had left and the Mervo players were waiting at the far end of the stadium from the main gate.
Nixon said he doesn’t remember exactly what he heard at the moment people began running through the gate toward him.
“I saw some kids running back into the stadium and I think I may have heard someone say, ‘gun,’ so that caused me to react,” Nixon said. “There definitely were no gunshots. I don’t believe there was a gun.
“I don’t know what was going on at that point. I was walking back toward the exit when everybody started running at me back into the stadium. At that point, I just took off running myself. I ran back toward my team and I was telling them we have to exit. The [gate] on the other side of the field was still open where Dunbar had exited. I was telling my guys to exit out that way.”
The Mustangs left and walked around the far side of the stadium from where the crowd was to get into the school building.
The large crowd on hand for the game prompted City Councilman Brandon Scott, who ran track at Mervo, to call for “a regional sports complex” to accommodate all the fans who want to see a big game like Dunbar-Mervo.
“Thankful that so many wanted to come out to support our students.” Scott tweeted Saturday afternoon. “This is just another clear reminder that as I have been pushing city to do for years that we need a regional sports complex. This will allow us to properly host large sporting events.”
The game was suspended with 1:58 left in the third quarter with Dunbar leading 16-8, although the Mustangs had the momentum.
Dunbar’s Andre Brandon ran for two touchdowns in the first half. Dion Crews-Harris made a one-handed grab on Lamar Simpson’s pass for the first 2-point conversion and Jamal Walker ran in the second one.
Mervo cut the lead in half when quarterback Mike McClain hit Rayvon Smith with a 14-yard scoring pass and Carl Moffett added the conversion run with 6:39 left in the third quarter. The Mustangs had driven to the Poets’ 32-yard line when the game was halted about five minutes later.