Top-ranked Polytechnic's defense rose to the occasion for the second straight week to help the host Engineers turn back No. 4 Gilman, 22-14, in overtime yesterday in a wild Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference game before a crowd estimated at 2,500.
The game featured nine penalties and seven turnovers.
Gilman's Keith Kormanik kicked a 40-yard field goal with nine seconds left to tie the game. In overtime, Poly senior running back Frank Johnson atoned for a costly fumble by scoring from a yard out on third down. Donald Odoms ran for the two-point conversion to give the Engineers a 22-14 lead.
(In overtime in high school football, each team gets the ball at its opponent's 10-yard line with four downs to score.)
After Poly (3-0, 2-0) scored, the Engineers' defense stopped Gilman (2-2, 2-1) on four downs. Jamal Cox ran for 2 yards on first down. On second down, quarterback Dan Brown was thrown for a 1-yard loss by Chris Robertson, Jelani Rucker and Deron Young. Brown's third- and fourth-down passes were incomplete.
Poly's defense, which shut out Forest Park a week ago, recovered three fumbles, scored a touchdown and had an interception.
"Thank God for this defense," said Young, a defensive end who recovered two fumbles, including one which he returned 32 yards for a second-half touchdown. "If it weren't for this defense, I don't know where we'd be."
Poly blew an opportunity to put the game away. The Engineers had the lead and the ball at their 9 with 1 minute, 30 seconds left after Cox fumbled and defensive end Steven Jones recovered.
But on first down, Johnson fumbled and Gilman defensive lineman Sam Mir recovered. After a 2-yard gain on first down, the Greyhounds lost 5 yards on a motion penalty. On the next two downs, Brown threw an incomplete pass and was sacked. Gilman settled for Kormanik's second field goal of the day to tie the game.
Brown came on late and added the option offense to Gilman's attack. It worked early, as he ran for 5 yards on each of his first two carries. But Poly adjusted, and on his last three runs Brown had a net of minus-3 yards.
"Again our defense was superb and our offense did what it had to do," said Poly coach Augie Waibel.
Poly's offense, which did not return any starters from last season and lost two lineman to injuries yesterday, struggled. After opening with a 18-play, 97-yard drive, the offense did not come through again until overtime.
It was Odoms, a little-used fullback, who made the difference in overtime. He stiff-armed his way to the one for a 7-yard gain, setting up Johnson's 1-yard touchdown run. Then he ran for the conversion.
"This game really surprised me," said Odom. "I didn't expect to get the ball as much or in such crucial spots. It really gave me a lot of confidence that coach gave me the ball. I felt a sense of obligation to the team to put forth my best effort and give it my all."
The carry was only Odom's fourth of the game and his first since the first half.
"He's [Odom] a threat we haven't utilized much this year 'cause we really haven't had to," said Waibel. "He's going to help our offense."
Gilman backs Ed Trusty and Cox had good days rushing. Cox had 13 carries for 109 yards. Trusty had 29 carries for 120 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown in the first quarter, but he fumbled three times, and Gilman lost two of those fumbles.
"We had a lot of penalties. We made some at key times and we fumbled the ball," said Gilman coach Sherm Bristow, whose team was penalized six times. "We had our shot. We just didn't get in at the end, but they did."
Gilman put together one impressive drive. After the Engineers took an 8-0 lead, Gilman came back with a 12-play, 80-yard drive to tie the game at 8. After the ensuing kickoff, Poly's Omar Nixon lost the first of his two fumbles and Gilman's Victor Carter-Bey recovered at the 39.
Gilman drove to the 7 but settled for a 30-yard field goal and an 11-8 lead, which is how the score stood at the half.
The second and third quarters belonged to the defenses. Gilman gained just 33 yards on its first three drives of the second half. Poly managed just 16 yards on its first three drives of the second half.
The Engineers got their second-half score when linebacker Chris Robertson hit Gilman quarterback Josh Miller as he was handing off the ball, forcing a fumble. Young grabbed the ball and ran 32 yards for a touchdown. A run for the conversion failed and Poly led 14-11.