Dunbar sees win streak slip away against Largo Sloppy 33-28 loss ends No. 2 Poets' run at 14

September 23, 1995|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Largo coach Rocco Romeo was well aware of No. 2 Dunbar's reputation before yesterday's game.

Last year's 2A state champs had outscored their last 14 opponents by an average of 32.6-to-3.6., including seven shutouts.

But three mistakes led to a 21-0 first-quarter deficit for Dunbar. And although the Poets (2-1) battled back through a torrential downpour that began midway through the second period, even holding a 28-27 lead early in the fourth, their third punting miscue led to a 33-28 loss and an end to their 14-game winning streak.

The Lions (3-0), last year's 4A state runners-up, took their final lead when the ball slipped past Dalnel Singfield -- punting from his own 9 -- to the Dunbar 2. Two plays later, quarterback Kurt Faison's 1-yard keeper sealed it.

"It was a good game for us, and we demonstrated a lot of heart in the second half," said Dunbar coach Stanley Mitchell, whose Poets won 12 games by 20 points or more. "We had some guys hurt, but our own mistakes are what cost us."

Dunbar's first miscue came on its opening drive. A fake punt failed when Singfield's pass fell incomplete, giving Largo the ball on Dunbar's 38.

Three plays later, David Johnson sprinted 21 yards off-tackle for a score.

Dunbar drove 79 yards in seven plays and faced a third-and-goal at the Largo 1 before being penalized twice back to the 21. A screen pass to Brett Thomas (16 carries, 151 yards) landed Dunbar on Largo's 6-yard line before turning the ball over on downs.

Then Johnson burst off-tackle on the next play, going 94 yards for a 13-0 lead. And an interception by Largo's Terry Lewis set up Faison's 1-yard sweep, followed by Johnson's conversion run.

"In the first half, our linemen were blocking and everything, but the second-quarter rain affected us," said Johnson, who gained 148 of his 159 yards in the first quarter. "You couldn't get any traction and the ball was real slick."

The Poets' defense helped earn their only lead with 10:30 remaining in the game after Antar Simsel recovered Johnson's fumble at Largo's 35. On the next play, Thomas took a delayed pitch from Anthony Wiggins and raced untouched for the score.

The Lions' running game suffered in the rain as Dunbar went to work early in the second quarter from Largo's 45.

Ali Culpepper's consecutive runs of 13 and 3 yards, coupled with a penalty against the Lions, set up Wiggins' 24-yard touchdown pass to Thomas. Singfield's conversion catch made it 21-8 with nine minutes to go in the half.

A low snap again slipped under the legs of Singfield, punting from his own 31, and rolled back to the 12. Three plays later, Faison's 17-yard sweep put the Lions up 27-8 with 4:35 left.

Singfield, a sophomore, gained a measure of redemption by returning the ensuing kickoff 85 yards to cut the deficit to 27-14.

Thomas' 4-yard touchdown run, coupled with his conversion catch from Wiggins, capped an 11-play, 73-yard drive to make it 27-20 midway through the third quarter.

Only two teams had come within 20 points of the Poets: Cambridge, an 8-6 loser in last year's 2A state semifinals, and Fort Hill, a 30-15 state title-game loser.

But the Poets were without two-way lineman Deon Johnson (6-foot-3, 320 pounds), and his absence allowed Romeo to focus his run-oriented attack on getting past linebacker Tommy Polley, last season's All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year.

"We got a good look at them on tape, and we knew where they were tough," said Romeo.

"But I didn't know that we'd be able to score like this against them."

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