Dunbar rips Wright, gains 3A final No. 1 Poets roll, 37-6, with balanced effort

November 26, 1995|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Ali Culpepper and Tommy Polley are synonymous with the success of top-ranked Dunbar's football program. But in yesterday's 37-6 rout of No. 5 C. Milton Wright in a Class 3A state semifinal at Morgan State, several other Poets added their names to the marquee.

Douglass Hampton had three of the Poets' 10 sacks, and safety Derry Williams his 10th interception. Offensively, Jonathan Thomas and Jason Boyce scored once each as Dunbar (11-1) posted a season high in points and won its ninth straight game.

"We've got some outstanding ballplayers who stepped up today," said Hampton, a senior who has seven sacks. "We looked at them on film and felt like we were a step quicker than their linemen. We just established our speed inside."

Speed made a huge difference. Dunbar racked up 372 rushing yards and 448 total. The Poets scored on their first four possessions en route to a 24-0 lead with 7:18 left in the first half.

Culpepper led the way with 165 yards on 18 carries and three first-half touchdowns, followed by senior Brett Thomas, who had 106 yards on nine carries. Culpepper, who entered the game as the state's sixth-leading rusher, raised his totals to 1,695 yards and 16 touchdowns. Brett Thomas went over the 1,000-yard mark, and quarterback Anthony Wiggins went 4-for-7 for 76 yards.

"Everybody got involved. It's the kind of game you want going into a state championship," said Culpepper, crediting 320-pound Deon Johnson, 245-pound Hamilton Johnson (no relation) and 230-pound Antar Sims-el.

Dunbar, last year's 2A champ with a 12-0 record, will take on Churchill (12-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday at the University of Maryland's Byrd Stadium. Churchill, ranked No. 5 by the Washington Post, beat Crossland, 12-9, in the other semifinal.

The tone was set early yesterday by Dunbar's Polley, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound linebacker who has 15 sacks and 11 interceptions. On the Mustangs' initial possession, he blocked Chris Russell's punt to give Dunbar the ball at the Mustangs' 22. Three plays later, Culpepper scored from 1 yard for a 6-0 lead with 7:16 left in the first period.

Later, Culpepper's 2-yard run capped a 12-play, 55-yard drive to make it 12-0 with 12 seconds left in the first period, and Jonathan Thomas made it 18-0 with a 30-yard touchdown run early in the second.

The effort was in sharp contrast to how Dunbar struggled in a 14-6 win over Westlake of Waldorf a week earlier. That game was witnessed by C. Milton Wright 10th-year coach Steve Harward, making his eighth straight state playoff appearance.

"They were a lot more physical and focused this week and just seemed to knock our kids off the ball," said Harward, whose line is laden with underclassmen and averages 242 pounds. "They showed much more intensity."

C. Milton Wright (10-2), in its seventh state semifinal under Harward, totaled 86 yards, and top rusher Todd Behler (1,182, nine touchdowns) just 34. The Mustangs did get 101 yards on eight catches from 6-4, 190-pound receiver Duane Fisher, who is headed for the University of Virginia.

But instead of concentrating on Fisher and junior running mate Pete Fountain, Poets coach Stanley Mitchell sent his players after junior quarterback Todd Shilow.

"We always wanted a hand in his face," said Mitchell, crediting line coach Ben Eaton for his preparation. "Our line was great. We dictated to them on both sides of the ball."

Hampton was most successful, followed by Culpepper and Chris Hall, each of whom had two sacks. Polley, Boyce and Dwayne Green had one sack each.

Still, the combination of Fisher and Shilow (12-for-25, 135 yards) nearly caused a momentum swing. Shilow's 23-yard scoring pass to Fisher cut the deficit to 24-6 with 5:19 left in the half. C. Milton Wright stopped Dunbar's next drive and covered 50 yards to the Dunbar 8, capped by Fisher's 20-yard reception.

Over the next four plays, however, Culpepper and Hampton had consecutive sacks of 11 yards, Fountain just missed an end-zone pass tipped by Dunbar's Dalnell Singfield, and Williams' interception ended the half.

"Their linemen were in on every play," said sophomore lineman Nick Joines. "We really laid it on the line today, but we just couldn't match them."

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