Dunbar shines without its star

Poets overcome Austin's 1st-quarter injury, advance to championship game

No. 2 Dunbar 34 South Carroll 8

Football state semifinals Class 1A

December 02, 2007|By Stefen Lovelace | Stefen Lovelace,Sun reporter

With a minute left in the first quarter between No. 2 Dunbar and South Carroll in a Class 1A football state semifinal, state career touchdown leader and Poets running back Tavon Austin fell to the Lumsden-Scott Stadium turf at Poly, clutching his side.

The junior had just suffered a helmet shot to the side of his body but walked off the field on his own. With the rest of Austin's day in question, he had a message for quarterback Jonathan Perry.

"When Tavon went down, he said, `Man, you got to do it,' " Perry said.

Perry and the rest of the Poets took the message to heart, rallying together in a 34-8 win over the Cavaliers. The victory was the Poets' 23rd in a row dating to last season and puts them in the state championship game against Allegany, a 27-21 winner over Joppatowne on Friday night. They play Saturday at noon at M&T Bank Stadium.

The Poets (13-0) proved they're just as explosive without their headliner, dicing up South Carroll's secondary on offense and frustrating the Cavaliers on defense. Perry went 9-for-18 for a career-high 280 yards and three touchdowns, and the Poets' defense forced Cavaliers quarterback Ryan Weaver to throw three interceptions. Dunbar allowed South Carroll's lone touchdown late in the fourth quarter, after the first-string defense had been substituted out.

"There was a sense of urgency as soon as Tavon went down," receiver Donaven Brooks said of Austin, who didn't return to the game but is expected to play next weekend. "We knew we had to step up."

Perry got started quickly, finding receiver Sean Farr - who seamlessly sprinted past his defender right off the line of scrimmage - 51 yards downfield 3 1/2 minutes into the game for the Poets' first touchdown.

Perry zipped the ball in to Brooks (three receptions, 34 yards) early in the second quarter for a 5-yard score and his second touchdown. Late in the third quarter, he went back to Farr, who battled a defender in the air and came down with a 37-yard touchdown.

Farr finished with six catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns, bringing his season touchdown total to 15. With Austin out, running back Davon Muse kept the defense honest, rushing for 65 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

"A lot of folks thought we were just a one-man team," coach Lawrence Smith said. "They wanted to show they could play without him, even though he's one of our leaders."

stefen.lovelace@baltsun.com

State Football

Schedule

Championships

(All games at M&T Bank Stadium)

Class 4A

No. 4 Arundel (13-0) vs. Quince Orchard (13-0), Friday, 7 p.m. (live on CN8)

Class 3A

No. 5 Hereford (13-0) vs. Damascus (12-1), Thursday, 7 p.m.

Class 2A

No. 1 River Hill (13-0) vs. No. 6 Eastern Tech (13-0), Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Class 1A

No. 2 Dunbar (13-0) vs. Allegany (13-0), Saturday, noon

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