City makes it 3 straight over Poly

City 26 No. 10 Poly 20

Football

November 11, 2007|By Stefen Lovelace | Stefen Lovelace,Sun reporter

The City and Poly football teams have met 119 times in what has become the longest high school football rivalry in the nation.

Each year different things are at stake. Sometimes, it's pride. Sometimes, it's the sheer history of this game.

This year, for City, a spot in the playoffs was on the line. Behind the arm of quarterback Ellis Foster, the legs of running backs Stephen Johnson and Richard Rodwell, the hands of wide receiver Adrian Coxson and a tenacious and opportunistic defense, City defeated No. 10 Poly, 26-20, yesterday at M&T Bank Stadium and will advance to the playoffs in the Class 2A North region.

"This means a lot," Foster said. "No one thought we could do it when we lost to Dunbar and Edmondson. They thought we didn't have it in us. but when our back was against the wall, we showed a lot of character as a team."

The win was City's third in a row over Poly, although Poly still leads the series 58-55-6.

The game was a treat for parents and fans on a windy Saturday afternoon. Poly (8-2) started the excitement early, recovering its onside kick to begin the game and scoring in just two minutes, 55 seconds on an 11-yard touchdown run by Lee Reynolds.

City (8-2) answered on the next drive, tying the game at 6 with a 1-yard touchdown run by Rodwell that was set up by a 24-yard pass from Foster to Coxson.

"Ellis was sharp all week," City coach George Petrides said. "If he got sharp today, we were going to be successful, and he was."

The Foster and Coxson duo was difficult for the Engineers to contain. Foster finished 9-for-18 for 198 yards and two touchdowns. Coxson caught five of those passes for 113 yards and a score. One of his catches was a 51-yard, highlight-reel, one-handed grab that put City up 14-6 just before halftime.

Poly stayed close, thanks to fakes, end-arounds and runs by Reynolds and quarterback Antoine Goodson. Reynolds finished with 18 carries for 53 yards and two touchdowns, and Goodson had nine carries for 88 yards and a touchdown. His best run came in the middle of the third quarter, when he faked to Reynolds and sprinted 43 yards. Two plays later, he scored from 3 yards out.

However, the duo also had four fumbles, three of which the Engineers lost. Poly fumbled six times overall, losing four.

"We wanted to put pressure on them," Petrides said. "They fumbled a lot at Douglass, and that's what we saw today."

City defensive end James Carmon was a force up front, and the secondary played well throughout, including a key fumble recovery by Goodson when Poly was driving.

Even with the turnovers, Poly had an opportunity to win at the end. Down 26-20 with three minutes left, the Engineers elected to punt, setting up the Knights at their 15-yard line. A false start and an offensive holding penalty later, City was on its 5-yard line. On first-and-20, Foster was sacked by Poly linebacker Donnell Brown at the 1 with 2:07 left.

After two short runs, City faced third-and-22. Johnson took a handoff, raced past the defensive front and weaved through Poly's secondary for 24 yards and a first down, enabling City to run out the clock.

"We needed that," Johnson said. "We were on the goal line, and I just saw the sideline was open."

The win completes a midseason turnaround for City.

"We responded from a 56-6 thrashing [to Dunbar]," Petrides said. "We told them to run the table and they did that. They showed a lot of character."stefen.lovelace@baltsun.com

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