Uneven Dunbar defense levels out After early lapses, Poets stifle Forest Park, 24-12

November 04, 1995|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

If there has been one constant about Dunbar this season, it is its inconsistency. Mental lapses. Uninspired play in spots. Breakdowns on offense and defense.

Another trait is the Poets' ability to win despite it.

The No. 2 Poets (8-1), seeking a second consecutive state championship, maintained their hold on first place in the state 3A East region with a 24-12 victory over Forest Park yesterday.

Dunbar can clinch the region title and a home game in the state quarterfinals with a victory at Edmondson Friday. And despite the loss, Forest Park (4-3-1) can clinch the 2A East region title by beating Southwestern next week.

In its state title run of a year ago, Dunbar's defense was nearly invincible, allowing only 39 points in 12 games. The Poets gave up 33 points in a loss to Largo earlier in the season, and 86 points overall.

After giving up two big plays in the first half yesterday, Dunbar's defense showed glimpses of its 1994 form, not allowing a first down in the last 24 minutes.

"We were able to get pressure on the quarterback," said senior defensive lineman Dwayne Green, who returned an interception for a touchdown and had nine tackles.

"Our secondary played the pass well and got a few interceptions."

The Poets' secondary was responsible for four of five interceptions thrown by Adrian Griffin. Junior defensive back Derry Williams had two, one of which led to Dunbar's second touchdown.

The third came from Ali Culpepper (103 yards, two touchdowns), who scored on a 33-yard run with 5:30 remaining in the game. Dunbar, which outgained Forest Park, 191-87, only had one first down in the second half.

"We make games hard on ourselves, but Forest Park did a very good job scouting us," said Dunbar coach Stanley Mitchell. "We didn't have good practices because of the weather, but make no excuses. Forest Park did a very good job."

Trailing 16-0 midway in the second quarter, Forest Park got an 86-yard kickoff return by Tamah McCray and a 43-yard scoring pass from Aaron Thompson to Calvin Thurmond to close the margin to 16-12 with 3:55 left in the first half.

But the Foresters had already put themselves in a hole. On their third play, Griffin's pass was tipped up by Culpepper and fell right into the arms of Green, who sprinted 22 yards for a touchdown.

Their second possession ended at the Poets' 35 on Williams' first interception, and Dunbar went 87 yards in 16 plays, capped by a 9-yard option run by Culpepper.

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