But as he dropped back into coverage midway through the second quarter, all Fuller could think about were the interceptions he had dropped in recent weeks.
On Friday night, he hung on, snagging a pair of key interceptions to help propel the Crimson Tide to a 40-19 D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association West victory on a festive evening in Columbia Heights.
“I’ve had endless opportunities in previous games but just never got to capitalize,” Fuller said. “Today, I was determined to make a play, and when the opportunities came, I was able to do it — twice.”
Senior quarterback Lamel Matthews got the Crimson Tide’s explosive offense going on the first snap of the game when he hit James Duff for a 25-yard gain. On the next play, junior Malonta Patterson juked his way through the Coolidge defense for a 19-yard pick up, and four plays later he capped off the drive with a three-yard touchdown run.
On Dunbar’s next drive, Patterson burst through the secondary for a 42-yard carry, and then Matthews connected with Delonte Matthews, his younger brother, for a 36-yard touchdown catch and run to increase the lead to 13-0.
“You can take it back to throwing in the backyard,” the older Matthews said. “It’s just a connection thing.”
Ronald Dorsey’s one-yard plunge got Coolidge on the board late in the fourth quarter, but after the Colts (1-5, 0-1) blocked a Dunbar punt, Andre Morris picked off Coolidge quarterback Jameel Kirkland to give the Crimson Tide (5-1, 1-0) the ball back.
After Patterson boosted the lead with the second of his three touchdown runs, Fuller’s focus paid off as he grabbed a deflected Kirkland pass for Dunbar’s second interception. Then, after a Crimson Tide fumble, Fuller halted another Coolidge drive with his second consecutive interception.
Two plays later, another Matthews-to-Matthews touchdown bomb — this one for 43 yards — gave Dunbar a 26-12 lead it would not relinquish.
Patterson finished with 176 yards and three scores on only 15 carries, and Lamel Matthews completed 9-of-15 passes for 202 yards and three scores before giving way to the third Matthews brother — sophomore quarterback Davon.
Kirkland rushed for 156 yards, but Dunbar’s defense kept constant pressure on him in the pocket, and with the help of Fuller and the secondary the Colts managed just 99 yards through the air on 6 of 20 passing.
“We’ve got a championship team,” Delonte Matthews said. “We don’t feel like anybody in the DCIAA can beat us, and that’s the way we played tonight.”