Fort Hill ends Dunbar's run with payback title victory, 22-6 Sentinels avenge loss in 1994 title game

Class 2A football

November 30, 1997|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- After a 15-point 2A state title-game loss to Dunbar three years ago at South Hagerstown High, about 10,000 disappointed Fort Hill football fans had a painful, 1 1/2 -hour drive back to Allegany County.

The ride home last night from Maryland's Byrd Stadium was an hour longer but a lot more palatable after a 22-6 victory that ended the Poets' winning streak at seven games and kept them from winning a third state crown.

Josh Page (6 feet 3, 220 pounds) rushed for 130 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion, and Jordan Hamilton (65 yards, eight carries) had the other touchdown and another two-point conversion as the Sentinels (13-0) did all their scoring in the third period after a scoreless first half.

With Dunbar trailing 14-0, Chris Barnes out-leaped double-coverage for a 25-yard touchdown reception -- his eighth touchdown catch of the season -- from Denelle Hale to bring the Poets within eight points with 5: 54 left in the period.

"It was intended for the tight end, but I was just lucky enough to get the pass," said Barnes, a 6-2, 185-pound junior.

But after Mike Page intercepted Hale and returned the ball to the Dunbar 11, Josh Page had four straight carries, the final time scoring a 2-yard touchdown on fourth-and-one with 1: 37 left in the period.

Behind Page, who has 1,858 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns this year, the Sentinels had 331 of their 339 total yards on the ground. The Poets had 131 total yards. Fort Hill opened the fourth quarter with a 13-play, 55-yard drive that took 7: 18 off the clock but stalled inside Dunbar's 20.

"The kids were frustrated at halftime and kind of looking around, but we got them pumped up to play good defense," said Fort Hill coach Mike Calhoun. "Scoring 22 points, that was big because I thought we were looking at a 7-0 game. I was proud of the fashion in which we won this game."

But Dunbar's defense answered the call in the scoreless first half when fumble recoveries by linemen Unray Peters (6-5, 235 pounds) and Omar Robinson ended two promising Fort Hill drives.

The first fumble occurred at Dunbar's 3 after an 11-play, 63-yard drive, and the second at the Poets' 21 after 10 plays and 42 yards. Trae Foster fumbled each time.

The Sentinels' Ben Lapp missed a 31-yard field-goal attempt to end the first half, which included Dunbar's Dahnel Singfield -- punting at his 36 on fourth-and-eight -- sustaining a drive after scooping a low snap and running 23 yards to the Fort Hill 41.

That drive ended as Fort Hill's Noah Read intercepted Hale's pass at the Fort Hill 20.

"We had it together in the first half, battling back and forth. We thought we had them," said Singfield, a member of the 1995 championship team. "I think we proved to everybody that we had the talent to get here, but we just didn't carry it all the way out. They had a heck of a ballclub, though."

After a 1-4 start, Dunbar coach Stanley Mitchell (50-12) challenged his team "to show more Dunbar pride."

The Poets (8-5) responded with a seven-game winning streak that included last week's 20-13 semifinal victory at Poly, which avenged a one-point loss. "A lot of people counted us out, so I was pleased, our kids played with a lot of pride. We came a long way," said Mitchell, whose Poets have reached the semifinals all five seasons. "But they [Sentinels] beat us in the trenches. They were well-prepared, and we couldn't stop their wing-T. Today, the better team won."

The Poets are 10-2 in playoff games under Mitchell, having beaten some of the state's best coaches including Calhoun (166-74); Poly's Augie Waibel (280-75); Cambridge's Doug Fleetwood (173-43) and his former assistant Al Thomas (188-37) Seneca Valley).

Next year's team should return Barnes, Tyrel Henderson (nine interceptions), running back Thomas James (1,000 rushing yards, 10 TDs), reserve quarterback Leonard Ferguson (561 passing yards, four TDs) and freshman Antoine Colvin (6-5, 318 pounds).

Pub Date: 11/30/97

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