It was the inaugural DCSAA championship between the champion of the District’s charter schools, Friendship Collegiate (8-3), and the DCIAA winner, Dunbar (9-3), but the game was a mismatch in physicality from the beginning. The Knights’ Jonathan Haden rushed for 148 yards and a touchdown, and backs Justin Watson and Jermaine Carter combined for 103 yards and four touchdowns. The Knights repeatedly ran at the left side of Dunbar’s defense, which was being pounded by Gray.
“I knew it was going to be a personal game . . . I knew friends over there,” Gray said. “I knew it started with us up front.”
After Friendship Collegiate’s defense forced a safety early in the first quarter, Haden returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards to the Dunbar 6-yard line, and Watson mopped up with a six-yard touchdown run. Watson burned Dunbar’s defense in the red zone again midway through the second quarter with a slicing 15-yard run to the left side to make it 22-6.
The Crimson Tide cut it to 28-12 midway through the third quarter after Lamel Matthews hit James Duff for a 40-yard touchdown pass, but Friendship Collegiate answered with a methodical 51-yard drive capped by Haden’s four-yard touchdown run. Dunbar fumbled on the first play of the ensuing possession, which was scooped up by Carter and returned 37 yards for another score to put the game out of reach. Dunbar was held to just 145 yards of offense, with five first downs.
“We looked at it going in, whoever won up front would have the advantage,” Friendship Collegiate Coach Aazaar Abdul-Rahim said.
With about two minutes remaining in the game, the Knights’ sideline unsuccessfully tried to douse Abdul-Rahim with Gatorade, and ice spilled onto the field. Friendship Collegiate was flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct, in what was the only thing that seemed to go wrong for the Knights all day.
“I’ve basically never had a championship,” Gray said. “Unfortunately I had to go against my old fellow team, but hey, you have to take care of business on the field, and be friends later.”