Poets break away to 1A title

32 unanswered points send Dunbar to 4th state crown, 9th straight victory

No. 10 Dunbar 38 Fort Hill 23

December 10, 2006|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Sun reporter

Fort Hill coach Barry Lattimer's worst fears were realized in yesterday's 38-23 Class 1A state title loss to 10th-ranked Dunbar at M&T Bank Stadium.

His Sentinels' powerful offensive line couldn't force backward an inspired defense led by linebackers Derek Session, Tevin Brown and Keon Redhead. Nor could it contain speedsters Tavon Austin and Maurice Portee. And Lattimer said the deep passes of quarterback Lawrence Watson "were something we didn't have an answer for."

"We knew they could throw the ball, but they surprised me today with the number of times they did it," said Lattimer, whose wife, Sarah, joked that she wanted to "adopt" Portee and Austin to play for next year's Sentinels. "If there's a weakness [it's] in our secondary, particularly being overmatched in the speed department."

Down 7-6 with 51 seconds left in the first quarter, the Poets (11-3) scored the next 32 points, including 20 in the second quarter for a 26-7 halftime lead. The burst all but put the game out of reach at 38-7 with 32 seconds left in the third quarter, securing Dunbar's ninth straight win and fourth state title.

Portee rushed for 200 of his 246 yards in the first half, scored on a 53-yard run and threw a 43-yard halfback option pass for a touchdown to Austin. Austin rushed for 111 yards and scores of 8 and 43 yards, giving him 32 this year and 53 at Dunbar.

Watson passed for 139 yards and touchdowns of 44 and 55 yards to Session and Kendall Jamison, respectively. Watson was named the starter yesterday morning "on a gut feeling" by offensive coordinator Travis Blackston. Brown had a sack and an interception, and Redhead had a fumble recovery.

The game was the teams' third matchup in a state title contest. In 1994, Dunbar led 8-7 at halftime of an eventual 30-15 rout of Fort Hill. In 1997, Fort Hill beat Dunbar, 22-6. The Sentinels (12-2) of Allegany County had won six straight games.

"They call this the show, and when you get to the show, you want to perform," said ninth-year coach Ben Eaton, who celebrated his 58th birthday by watching his Poets generate 372 total yards in the first half. "We rehearsed, and we rehearsed, and today we put together a great musical."

Dunbar led 6-0 at 3:14 of the first quarter after Watson found Session open at the 20 for the 44-yard touchdown pass. Fort Hill went up 7-6 after Drew Yurko's 3-yard run ended a seven-play, 57-yard drive, but that's when the Poets went to work.

Watson struck again at 10:42 of the second quarter, finding Jamison for a 55-yard scoring pass. Watson's conversion pass to Anthony Smooth made it 14-7.

Then Portee took over the game, recovering a fumbled kickoff return caused by Gary Onuekwus at the Fort Hill 49 before completing the scoring pass to Austin on fourth-and-three for a 20-7 lead at 8:47 of the second quarter. With 1:22 left in the half, Brown's interception at Dunbar's 15 set up Portee's 53-yard score for a 26-7 lead 47 seconds before halftime.

"Everybody was keying on Tavon," said Portee, a senior, who praised linemen Session, James Coppage, Devon Clark, Antonio Brown, David Land and Brandon Brown for their blocking. "Once my line gets in a zone and starts pushing teams back, it's easier for me."

lem.satterfield@baltsun.com

D 6 20 12 0 - 38

FH 7 0 0 16 - 23

D- Session 44 pass from Watson (pass failed) FH-Yurko 3 run (Mallow kick) D-Jamison 55 pass from Watson (Smooth pass from Watson) D-Austin 43 pass from Portee (pass failed) D-Portee 53 run (pass failed) D-Austin 43 run (run failed) D-Austin 8 run (kick failed) FH-Rice 2 run (Weisenmiller pass from Shook) FH- Rice 2 run (Smith run) 38-23

Football state powers

Dunbar became the 10th team in Maryland history to win at least four football state titles:

School Titles

Seneca Valley 12

Allegany 8

Damascus 6

Springbrook 6

Wilde Lake 5

Smithsburg 5

Friendly 5

Urbana 4

Linganore 4

Dunbar 4

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