Big 2nd half lifts Dunbar by No. 14 Randallstown

September 04, 1993|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

The big question surrounding last night's season opener between Dunbar and No. 14 Randallstown was how much the Poets' coaching controversy would affect the team on the field.

The answer depended on which half you were watching.

After the Rams scored nine early points, Dunbar answered with 18 second-half points in an 18-9 victory at Catonsville Community College.

The Poets' coach entering practice, Pete Pompey, was placed on administrative leave last month pending an investigation into the alleged misuse of funds. For new coach Stanley Mitchell, the win was a triumph of spirit.

"I'd like to think this puts all the controversy behind us," Mitchell .. said. "Things came together pretty well today."

But not for the entire game.

Without star lineman Derek Player, who missed the game after recovering from a medical problem, Dunbar's offense looked in disarray for much of the first half. The Poets missed assignments, dropped passes and racked up 45 yards of penalties in the first half.

Player was cleared to play in the Poets' next game after passing a stress test.

Randallstown took advantage of the Poets' lack of focus to get on the scoreboard early in the first quarter.

On a fourth-and-13 from their 17, the Poets were whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct on an attempted punt, moving the ball half the distance to the goal line.

On the ensuing punt attempt, Dunbar snapped the ball over the head of punter Donte Jones and out of the end zone for a safety, giving the Rams a 2-0 lead 1:13 into the game.

Randallstown extended the lead on its next possession. T.J. Williamson scored on a 3-yard run around the right end with 4:52 left in the first quarter, capping a 13-play, 35-yard drive to make it 9-0.

But the Poets came back strong in the second half, scoring on a 65-yard interception return by Tommy Polley, a quarterback sneak by Rodney Elliott and a game-clinching 24-yard run by Jonny Sawyer.

Sawyer took the handoff, went up the middle but was stopped, then changed direction and beat the Randallstown defense around the right corner and down the sideline.

"After the first half we had to put our heads back in the game," said Sawyer. "I just had to get in the end zone. This game was for Pompey."

Most of the Dunbar players echoed Sawyer's sentiments for their former coach and used it for motivation throughout the game.

For Randallstown coach John Buchheister, however, the loss was a simple matter of talent.

"They've got great athletes," he said. "They're bigger than us and faster than us."

For Mitchell, the strategy now is to build on the win and make the players focus completely on football. In his mind, last night was a big first step.

"There were rumors out there that I couldn't coach high school football because I'd coached little league," Mitchell said, "but we came out today and beat a top-15 team."

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