Austin's 4 TDs carry Dunbar

Poets cap state semifinal win over Elkton with 33-yard scoring run on 4th-and-9

No. 10 Dunbar 26 Elkton 20

December 03, 2006|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun Reporter

Sophomore Tavon Austin has scored plenty of touchdowns for 10th-ranked Dunbar, but none was bigger than his fourth of the game yesterday against Elkton of Cecil County.

Facing fourth-and-nine at Elkton's 33-yard line with 1:45 to play, Austin took a pitch from Lawrence Watson, followed a block by Kendall Jamison against 6-foot-2, 210-pound linebacker Kyle Culver, and raced untouched for his 50th career touchdown in a come-from-behind, 26-20 Class 1A state semifinal victory at Poly. It was the Poets' eighth straight win.

Maurice Portee outleaped a defender for the two-point conversion pass from Watson, ending a nine-play, 77-yard drive. Austin also rushed for scores from 4 and 14 yards and caught a 78-yard touchdown pass from Keith Jones, giving him 29 touchdowns this year.

"Lawrence made a great fake that froze the linebackers playing the pass. I used my speed the rest of the way," said Austin, a 5-9, 170-pound player. "I've never scored a big, big touchdown in a hard game like this."

Derek Session registered his ninth sack and James Coppage recovered a fumble to set up a Dunbar touchdown in a game whose finish mirrored last year's 20-18 semifinal loss at Snow Hill. In that game, a potential game-winning run by Dunbar's quarterback was stopped by a defender on the Snow Hill 3-yard line as time expired.

"That was in mind," Austin said. "That was embarrassing."

Winners of eight of their previous nine games, the Golden Elks (8-5) had outmuscled the Poets along the line of scrimmage, generating 240 yards and leading 7-6 late in the first quarter and 13-12 at halftime. Elkton's scoring came on touchdown runs by Jeff Gdula and Stephen Neal, and on Chris Hill's field goals of 27 and 37 yards.

"They do a great job of position blocking," said ninth-year coach Ben Eaton, who led the Poets to the 1A crown, 16-14, over Joppatowne in 2004. "They were a hard-nosed team, but the kids emerged. It's good preparation for next week."

Dunbar (10-3) earned a berth in Saturday's noon title game at M&T Bank Stadium -- and a shot at its fourth state crown. The Poets will face Fort Hill (12-1) of Cumberland in Allegany County, which routed No. 15 Havre de Grace, 57-14, yesterday. Dunbar and Fort Hill have split their two state title game matchups, with Dunbar winning the 2A crown, 30-15, in 1994, and the Sentinels winning it, 22-6, in 1997.

Eaton, who turns 58 the day the Poets face the Sentinels, was on the sideline as an assistant to Stanley Mitchell when Dunbar won back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995 -- the latter for the 3A title against Churchill of Montgomery County.

Austin dominated a team almost single-handedly for the second straight week. In a 38-22 South Region victory over Forestville of Prince George's County on Nov. 25, Austin rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns, returned a fumble 60 yards for another score and returned one of his three interceptions 64 yards to set up Portee's third touchdown.

Elkton 7 6 7 0 -- 20

Dunbar 12 0 6 8 -- 26

D--Austin 4 run (run failed)

E--Gdula 1 run (Hill kick)

D--Austin 78 pass from Jones (pass failed)

E--Hill 27 FG

E--Hill 37 FG

D--Austin 14 run (run failed)

E--Neal 6 run (Hill kick)

D--Austin 33 run (Portee pass from Watson)

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