At this time of year, Baltimore City Division I football is all about the jostle for the division title. Saturday night, Dunbar held onto a share of the division lead, prevailing over Edmondson, 16-0, in a sloppy game at Poly that featured 282 yards of penalties.
The Poets' victory dropped Edmondson out of what had been a four-way tie for the division lead and left the Poets (7-1 overall) even with Patterson and Poly at 5-1 at the top. The Red Storm (5-3, 4-2) drops into a fourth-place tie with City.
With the victory, the Poets also retain possession of the Ben Eaton Memorial Trophy, named after Dunbar's late coach and presented to the Dunbar-Edmondson winner annually. The Poets have won the trophy all four years since Eaton died.
In this game, the Poets had 165 penalty yards, but broke a huge play early when quarterback Kevin Estep hit DeonTay McManus with a 61-yard touchdown pass to take an 8-0 lead in the first quarter. JaQuan Holt's 7-yard touchdown run with 11:10 left in the game made it 16-0 and provided some breathing room.
"This game was as tough as it was supposed to be," McManus said. "At halftime our coaches just told us to settle down and just play our style of football and everything will take care of itself."
The Poets also got some help from three Edmondson turnovers, and the Red Storm piled up the penalties, too, with 117 yards on the night.
Both teams struggled on offense from the start and the penalty yardage started to accumulate late in the first quarter. The Poets had 70 yards worth of penalties in the first half and the Red Storm nearly matched it with 65.
Edmondson turned the ball over twice in the first half, once stopping a 14-play drive that reached the Poets' 24-yard-line. Dunbar could not covert either turnover, but the Poets got an early jump with Estep's touchdown pass to McManus. Holt then ran in the conversion for an 8-0 Poets lead with 3:09 left in the first quarter.
Late in the quarter, the Red Storm moved the ball well, marching 76 yards on 15 plays to the Poets' 24, but Jamal Johnson forced quarterback Rodney Pratcher to fumble and Dunbar's Travon Garrett recovered the ball.
In the second half, the Poets opened with a strong defensive stand, stopping the Red Storm on fourth-and-1 at Dunbar's 40, but the Red Storm could not do the same when the Poets faced fourth-and-1 at Edmondson's 49. Still, Dunbar's drive stalled thanks in part to a holding penalty that negated a fine run by Holt.
Holt's 7-yard touchdown run opened the fourth quarter, capping a six-play, 22-yard drive after Dunbar's Ernest Hawkins had tackled Lawrence Jackson for a 6-yard loss and forced the Red Storm to punt deep in its own territory. LaVar Highsmith ran in the two-point conversion.