Dunbar has long fashioned itself a team that relies on the combination of offense, defense and special teams to produce points. Those three facets of the game were on full display again last week against Wilson.
The Crimson Tide had home-run plays on offense, like Malonta Patterson’s 60-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Sophomore linebacker Monte Smith forced a safety, and Cesar Ramirez connected on his first field goal of the year.
But in a 19-18 loss, Dunbar simply couldn’t stop Tigers running back Abdul Adams, who rushed for 258 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. A bulk of that yardage total came on an 85-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, which gave Wilson a seven-point lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
The Crimson Tide (6-3) will get its second opportunity in as many weeks to take down the Tigers (8-3) when the two teams meet in the District of Columbia Interscholastic Athletic Association Stars division semifinals Saturday at Cardozo. And it’s a welcome challenge for Dunbar Coach Jerron Joe, who is 0-3 the past two seasons against Wilson, including two losses this year that came by a combined eight points.
“It’s one of the bigger games for this program. Quite naturally they’ve had our number,” Joe said. “This is the game that counts.”
Another Turkey Bowl berth is on the line for both Wilson and Dunbar, with the winner meeting the victor of the other semifinal between Ballou (6-5) and red-hot H.D. Woodson (8-3), which has won seven straight games by a combined score of 273-44. In the DCIAA Stripes division playoffs, Eastern (3-6) will meet McKinley Tech (7-4), while Theodore Roosevelt (3-8) will travel to Phelps (5-4) for Friday night semifinals.
In the first matchup between the Tigers and Crimson Tide in October, a 13-6 Wilson win, the Tigers were able to create big plays on defense. Senior linebacker Fred Anderson returned an interception 55-yards for a touchdown, and Adams added another touchdown in the second quarter. The sophomore was limited early in the season with a hamstring injury, but has broken out the last three games. He needed just six carries to rush for 115 yards in a win over Coolidge, and just eight carries to rush for 121 yards and two touchdowns against Anacostia on Nov. 2. He has rushed for nearly 800 yards this season on just 70 carries.
Dunbar, meanwhile, will lean heavily on a reformed special teams approach and defense to produce offense Saturday, and when the Crimson Tide have the ball, Patterson will be front and center. The 5-foot-8, 170-pound senior, has been equally durable and explosive this season. He surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last week with 150 yards and the aforementioned touchdown against Wilson. He recieved 19 carries in the game, which tied for a season high.
“He had a great game [last week]. We need to put it in the senior’s hands,” Joe said, “It keeps the ball out of Wilson’s hands.”