No. 14 Patterson (7-1, 2-0) nearly blew a 21-point halftime lead, but held on to turn back visiting Dunbar (5-2, 2-1), 21-16, and take sole possession of first place in the Maryland Scholastic Association B Conference, Division I yesterday.
The Poets, trailing, 21-16, had a chance to score in the final minutes after Patterson's John Sauer fumbled and Dunbar's Derrick Player recovered at the Clippers' 25 with a little more than three minutes left.
The Poets moved the ball to the 9, but on a fourth-and-seven, the Clippers' Kenneth Clark knocked down a pass intended for the Poets' Travis Blackston to save the victory.
"They had been running the quick slant pattern all game long," said Clark, a senior defensive back. "As soon as he cut inward, I broke in and got my hand on the football."
Clark, who had six tackles, made another big play earlier when he deflected a Dunbar pass which went into the hands of teammate Charles Anderson (two interceptions). Anderson returned it 40 yards for a touchdown for the last of Patterson's three first-half touchdowns and the eventual game-winning points. That was one of three Dunbar turnovers that resulted in a score.
"We just gift-wrapped it for them," said Dunbar coach Pete Pompey. "We didn't execute well, but we were able to take advantage of a couple of their mistakes, but in the end they held their poise."
The Poets came up with 16 third-quarter points to get back into the game. They sandwiched a 38-yard touchdown pass from Don Meredith to Paul Banks and a 2-yard touchdown run by Banks around a pair of safeties. Both safeties were the results of bad snaps that Patterson backup punter Buddy Edmond couldn't handle.
"We just lost our composure out there for a while," said Patterson coach Roger Wrenn, whose regular snapper Richard Willard was ejected along with Dunbar's Earl Kutcherman for fighting late in the first half.