City tumbles Poly, 26-20, on TD with 3 seconds left Johnson's pass to Smith ends 3-year losing streak

November 10, 1996|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Michael Johnson's 28-yard touchdown pass to Warren Smith with three seconds to play completed a 20-point run by No. 7 City, lifting the Knights (8-2) to a 26-20 victory over Poly in their 108th annual meeting at Memorial Stadium yesterday.

An interception by James Gee, who has nine for the year, set up the Knights' game-winning drive at their own 43 with 1: 26 to play as City avoided a fourth straight loss to Poly (5-5). City trails the series, 53-49-6.

Smith's effort made up for being burned on a third-period, 69-yard touchdown pass from Poly quarterback Timmy Frazier (6-for-15, 110 yards) to Chris Barnes (three receptions, 93 yards) that put the Engineers up, 20-6, with 6: 35 left in the third period. Smith had come down with the ball, but Barnes stole it at City's 30 and ran the rest of the way unhindered.

City's other hero was Taber Small, who rushed for 87 yards and two touchdowns.

After going 1-for-7 for 22 yards in the first half, Johnson (6-for-18, 118 yards) engineered a six-play, 84-yard drive that ended with Small's first score from three yards to bring the Knights within 20-12 with 4: 25 left in the third period. Johnson completed three passes for 74 yards in the drive.

Smith's fourth-quarter interception, and subsequent 27-yard return, gave City the ball on its own 37. Seven plays later, Small went over from 18 yards, and his conversion run with 3: 59 to play tied the game at 20-20.

Small was a freshman in 1993 when the Engineers' one-point victory ended City's winning streak at 29 and sent the Knights stumbling into the Class 3A state playoffs, where they lost in the first round. And Smith was a freshman when another one-point Poly victory -- on a pass to Martin Prosper, who beat Smith for the catch -- eliminated the Knights from the playoffs, despite an 8-2 record.

Last year, the Engineers overcame an early deficit to win, 36-14.

"This was incredible to come back and win like this -- back at Memorial Stadium," said Smith, a 6-foot-3, 180-pounder. "We wanted this one real bad. Paybacks are something, aren't they?"

City took its game-opening drive 56 yards in eight plays, before James Wilson (11 carries, 62 yards) went over from nine yards with 8: 50 left in the first period.

But after covering 25 yards, City's next drive ended with an interception by Poly's Dwimoh Palmer at the Engineers' 47. Twelve plays and 65 yards later, a 13-yard touchdown run by Andre Perkins (20 carries, 87 yards) tied the score at 6-6.

Another Poly drive went 39 yards in 11 plays to the Knights' 7. But on the third and fourth downs, one Frazier pass went in and out of Barnes hands anotherwas batted down in the end zone.

City moved the ball just three yards on its next series, and Dominic Moore (one interception) returned Andrew Lashley's punt 40 yards for a touchdown, which, coupled with Perkins' conversion run, made it 14-6 with 1: 07 left in the half.

Sacks by Karim Cross, Anthony Lewis and Jason Brown, and a fumble recovery by Anthony Salley also were critical in City's first BTC victory since 1992, when it won, 20-0, at Memorial Stadium.

"It was sweet, that's all I can say," said Small, the team's only four-year starter. "The way they had been beating us the last couple of years, this is just a great way to go out. As a senior, that's all I wanted."

The win, City's fifth over a team that has been ranked in The Baltimore Sun's Top 15 at one time or another, secured the East Region crown, the city 2A league title and a Class 2A playoff berth.

"Our sophomores did all that we can ask, but Taber came in and really made a difference," said Poly coach Augie Waibel. "They're a great team."

Pub Date: 11/10/96

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