Gibbons stays out of No. 1 Poly's reach, 9-6 Engineers' last-play lunge comes up 2 inches short

September 21, 1991|By Sam Davis

The Cardinal Gibbons player who kicked the 40-yard field goal against Poly in a game Friday was identified incorrectly in yesterday's editions of The Sun. The kicker was Rob Holderfield.

The Sun regrets the error.

Yesterday at Polytechnic High, football turned into a game of inches.

Two inches to be exact.

That's all that separated the ball in Poly split end Ian Smith's outstretched hand and the goal line as time expired and $H unranked Cardinal Gibbons (1-1, 1-0) held on for a 9-6 upset victory over the top-ranked Engineers in a Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference game.


Smith came oh-so-close to being the hero and saving the Engineers and possibly their No. 1 ranking in their opener.

After catching a desperation pass from quarterback Andrew Pecora, Smith broke a tackle and managed to keep his balance after his knee came within inches of touching the ground. Gibbons' Maurice Bruce dragged down Smith -- and almost assuredly the Engineers' top ranking -- as he stretched for the end zone.

It completed a mission for an upstart Gibbons team of 24 against a Poly team of 47.

"All week long we practiced hard," said Gibbons running back/defensive back Eugene Marshall. "We felt like they were going to take us for a joke. We felt we had to prove something to them and to the A Conference, that we are the team to beat, not Poly."

Marshall nearly went from hero to goat on the final play. He was covering Smith and chose to go for the ball, with his lunge forward leaving Smith wide-open.

Fortunately for Marshall, he'll be remembered for the 114 yards on 24 carries he provided to keep Gibbons' offense going, instead of his defense on that final play.

"Over-excitement, I guess," Marshall said in explaining his reason for trying for the interception.

"The whole Poly school didn't give us a chance," he added. "They thought it would be a cakewalk."

The Crusaders matched the Engineers' speed and Gibbons' defense, led by senior linebacker Chris Abel, came up with the big plays when it needed them.

"We just wanted to contain and make sure everybody was on the ball carrier," said Abel. "No broken tackles and don't let them get outside because they are pretty fast."

Sophomore Kevin Duke kicked a 40-yard field goal through a mild crosswind with 4:42 left in the second quarter, giving Gibbons its 9-6 advantage.

Gibbons scored on the opening drive, taking advantage of a poor kickoff to go 52 yards on nine plays for a score. Damon Fleary capped the drive with an 11-yard sweep for the score. Marshall accounted for 30 yards on four carries during that drive. A pass for the conversion failed.

Poly answered with a 10-play, 56-yard drive that culminated early in the second quarter with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Pecora to Smith. Pecora's pass for the conversion was intercepted by Abel.

"We've got a good ballclub," said Gibbons coach Frank Trcka. "It was just a matter of whether we were ready to play at that level. We've got as much speed as they do, and it neutralized the game. They couldn't outrun us."

Gibbons' defense held Poly to 250 yards of total offense. The Engineers hurt themselves with 80 yards on six penalties.

"Our kids penalized themselves out of the game," said Poly coach Augie Waibel. "Gibbons played extremely well, but they have some problems. They're not going to win it all."

Waibel said the loss won't be devastating for his team. He said he never felt the No. 1 ranking was appropriate.

"We're not a very good team," said Waibel. "We're a young team."

The Engineers returned just one starter on offense and five on defense, but one of them -- linebacker Derrick Odoms -- missed )) yesterday's game with an elbow injury. Waibel said he may be ready for next week's game against Northern.

"Our execution wasn't bad," said Waibel. "We clipped behind the ball carrier twice. We have to overcome that. I think we had eight or nine 15-yard penalties [actually five]. When you get penalized like that and you lose 9-6, you can correct those things."

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