Poly rides 92-yard drive to 14-6 win over City

Ali-El's 25-yard touchdown catch on fourth-and-19 in fourth quarter is game-winner

November 06, 2010|By Jeff Seidel | Special to The Baltimore Sun

The history of the City-Poly game is filled with strange and dramatic plays that alumni and fans remember for years.

Poly added a new chapter to the story on Saturday in the 122nd meeting between the teams.

Just call it "The Drive."

The Engineers were tied with City when they marched 92 yards on 19 plays in a drive that took over 10 minutes. They finished it in dramatic fashion when quarterback Darrell Milburn threw a short pass to Gabriel Ali-El that the running back turned into a 25-yard touchdown on fourth-and 19 with six minutes left to give Poly a 14-6 victory at M&T Bank Stadium.

The 10-minute, 10-second drive featured twists and turns befitting a City-Poly game. A penalty for an illegal fair catch signal pushed the Engineers back to the 8-yard line with 4:10 left in the third quarter of a 6-6 tie.

Poly (7-3, 6-2) then began to move the ball, and coach Roger Wrenn gambled and went for it on fourth-and-1 from his 33. Ali-El got just enough for the first down.

"We just thought the drive was huge [because] they're so good defensively," Wrenn said. "We knew the game was on the line. We rolled the dice right there."

Later in the drive, Milburn got hit and fumbled while trying to pitch to Ali-El. The running back alertly fell on the ball for a loss of 7. Three plays later, Poly faced fourth-and-19 from the City 25.

The Engineers called "Trips Right Verticals" and put three receivers to the right side. Ali-El was one of them, and he cut across the middle. A blown coverage from City (7-3, 5-3) left him wide open, and Milburn made the the game-winning touchdown pass.

"I just saw him out of the corner of my eye," Milburn said. "I was hoping for a first down."

Ali-El was hoping for a little more -- especially since it was a City-Poly game.

"Big players make big plays at big times," Ali-El said. "There's 121 teams from Poly that've played before us. We couldn't let our coaches down, our fans down and the players who've played before us down."

Ali-El ran for 66 yards and caught two passes for 25 yards, gaining 91 of the Engineers' 233 yards. Milburn, who alternated with running quarterback Jordon Garrison, threw for 101 yards.

Milburn threw another 25-yard touchdown pass for the other Poly score, this one early in the second period to Brandon Owens to tie the game at 6. The Engineers nearly took the lead when Garrison ran for a 64-yard touchdown on the first play of the second half, but a holding penalty wiped it out.

The City offense got off to a good start when Tre James ran for a 26-yard touchdown on the game's first possession. That capped a 65-yard drive, but the Knights gained just 80 yards after that. They made only three first downs in the second half, one of which came on a penalty.

"We couldn't get the ball back in the second half," said City coach George Petrides. "We couldn't get any three-and-outs on [defense]."

Petrides said he told his team to have a short memory when it comes to this game so they can get ready for next week's Class 2A North regional playoffs. City's already locked up playoff berth, but Poly needed to win this game and get some help to get in.

The Engineers, who lead the series, 61-55-6, now have won three straight games against City. This is one that will surely be remembered.

"It was 'The Drive,' " that's for sure," Wrenn said with a smile.

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