Dunbar is right 'at home,' downs Douglass-PG, 36-21 Poets are 5-0 in playoffs held at Morgan State field

3A football

November 17, 1996|By Derek Toney | Derek Toney,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Maybe Dunbar should consider playing its home games at Morgan State.

The No. 6 Poets began their pursuit of a third straight state championship by defeating Douglass of Prince George's County, ranked No. 14 in the Washington area, 36-21, in a Class 3A quarterfinal game yesterday to improve to 5-0 in playoff games at Morgan.

Dunbar (9-2) advances to the semifinals and will travel to Westlake of Charles County in a rematch of a quarterfinal game last season won by the Poets, 14-6. Westlake (11-0), ranked No. 5 in the Washington area, defeated Gwynn Park of Prince George's County, 24-12, in a quarterfinal game Friday.

During its 42-6 overall record over the past four seasons, Dunbar has lost five of those games at Cain Field.

One of those losses came in September against Douglass (9-2), which defeated the then-No. 1 Poets, 14-8, and held senior running back Ali Culpepper to a season-low 63 yards.

Yesterday, Culpepper gained 163 yards and two second-half touchdowns. He gained 101 yards in the final 24 minutes.

"We didn't tackle," said Douglass coach Tom Glynn. "We came up here the first time and we shut Culpepper down. Today, we didn't make the tackles. We had guys on him, three yards in the backfield. If you don't tackle, you don't win."

But the biggest problem Douglass had was getting a grip on Dunbar quarterback Denelle Halle, who netted 152 all-purpose yards and made things happen for the Poets.

Halle (72 yards passing) gave Dunbar the lead for good, throwing a 51-yard touchdown pass to Derry Williams on a third-and-27 with 5: 32 remaining in the first half. Halle then found Alan Nelson for the two-point conversion and a 16-9 lead.

Douglass struck back immediately with an 80-yard touchdown run by Harold Lewis (131 yards), closing the margin to 16-15. But Halle engineered a 14-play, 58-yard drive and scored from 8 yards out on a fourth-and-one with 29 seconds left in the first half. On the play, Halle lost the handle on the ball at the 3, grabbed it out of the air and went into the end zone.

"We were in the mindset that we were going to win this game," said Halle, who rushed for 80 yards. "The coaches told us our lines had to play big or it would be a long day."

The Poets' young line showed improvement yesterday, leading the way for 314 rushing yards and helping expand the lead to 36-15 with 8: 18 remaining in the game on scoring runs of 6 and 2 yards by Culpepper in the final period.

Douglass had 266 rushing yards, but only 86 after halftime as Lewis managed only 14 yards on seven carries after gaining 117 on seven carries in the first half.

"We've been saying all year that our defensive and offensive lines will carry us," said Poets coach Stanley Mitchell, who has an 8-1 state playoff record. "If they can do the job, we can go all the way. We're very young, but they are motivated and starting to come together."

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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