Small Poly trio engineers upset No. 2 Lake Clifton throws 4 interceptions, loses 1st game, 14-0

October 11, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Carlton Saunders, George Hopkins and Montez Jordan are three of the smallest players on Poly's defense, but they stood tallest yesterday in the No. 6-ranked Engineers' 14-0 shutout of No. 2 Lake Clifton.

Through five games, Lakers quarterback Joe Able, a three-year starter, had thrown for 661 yards and nine touchdowns. His receivers, Eric Thompson (6-foot-3, 190 pounds) and Tavon Ervin (6-1, 190), had a combined 28 receptions for 671 yards and nine touchdowns.

But against Poly's diminutive trio, Able was unable, going 2-for-13 for nine yards.

Saunders credited the Engineers' "outstanding pass rush" -- from Damian Mindley, Craig Green, Tony Clark and Bryant Cowan -- for continually flushing Able from the pocket and forcing him to hurry passes.

The secondary did the rest.

Jordan, a 5-foot-7, 150-pound senior, got his sixth and seventh interceptions, and both Saunders, a 5-9, 160-pound senior, and Hopkins, a 5-8, 160-pound sophomore strong safety, grabbed one interception each.

The victory improved the Engineers to 5-1 overall and 4-0 in the City's East Division. Lake Clifton dropped to 5-1, 2-1.

"Us defensive backs were pumped up today. And whenever they dropped back to pass, we were ready for it," said Saunders, who had six interceptions last season.

Lake Clifton, which totaled 206 yards rushing, moved the ball well, using second-team All-Metro running back Darnell Pearsall (15 carries, 105 yards) and 5-8, 200-pound Robert Carrothers (five carries, 40 yards). But the Lakers often self-destructed offensively -- three times in the first half.

"We missed some opportunities to score, and we just did not play up to our capabilities today," Lake Clifton coach James Monroe said. He then alluded to the fact that the Lakers won eight straight games to reach the Class 4A state semifinals after a 22-0 loss at home to Patterson last year.

"We've been down before. We'll come back from this."

Jordan returned his first interception 42 yards to the Lakers' 31, halting a Lakers' drive that had covered 53 yards and setting up the first of Charles Haywood's two touchdowns -- from five yards -- nine plays later. Marcus Smith's first of two extra-point kicks made it 7-0 with 11 minutes left in the half.

Hopkins' interception and 40-yard return aborted Lake Clifton's second drive of the game late in the second period.

Lake Clifton's third drive ended at Poly's 14-yard line after 13 plays and 71 yards. Facing second-and-eight at the Engineers' 14, Able forced three consecutive incomplete passes, with Saunders breaking up the last two, both meant for Ervin.

Carrothers and Pearsall each recovered fumbles for the Lakers.But the Lakers couldn't stop Poly from gaining 132 of its 158 total yards in the second half.

Haywood had 82 yards on 18 carries behind linemen Dale Martin, Antoine Boyd, Aaron Ward and Jake Bobian. His 4-yard scoring run capped a 14-play, 59-yard drive with 6: 10 left to play.

"We felt we played a tougher schedule, and Lake Clifton was an unproven team, even though they're No. 2," Saunders said. "Now, maybe we'll get our proper respect."

Pub Date: 10/11/97

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