Yesterday's D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association semifinal doubleheader at Cardozo High School showcased two of the city's top rushers in Eastern's Lawrence Wade and Dunbar's James Lynch. Neither senior disappointed--Wade's 308 yards led the Ramblers to a 54-24 victory over Wilson and Lynch's 207 yards got the Crimson Tide past H.D. Woodson, 28-20--in leading their respective teams to the DCIAA championship game on Thanksgiving day.
The victory earned the Crimson Tide (8-3-1) a second consecutive appearance in the Turkey Bowl. Dunbar, which has not lost to a DCIAA opponent in more than two years, trailed 12-6 at halftime as H.D. Woodson (8-2) got a pair of first-half touchdowns from featured back Keon Coleman.
But the Crimson Tide defense took control in the second half, shutting out the Warriors for the third quarter and most of the fourth. Meanwhile, Dunbar's offense--led by Lynch and senior backup quarterback Michael Coles--came on strong and grabbed the lead on an nine-yard reception by Darrel Dowery Jr. with 2 minutes 25 seconds remaining in the third quarter to stake his team to a 14-12 lead. The lead would be threatened, but it was one that Dunbar would never relinquish.
Coles found senior Steven Savoy for a 25-yard score with 10:55 remaining in the fourth. Lynch scored from two yards out with 5:46 left to give the Crimson Tide the cushion it needed.
Woodson, however, came back to 28-20 on a 20-yard touchdown reception by Howard Gilmore with 3:56 left but was unable to recover the ensuing onside kick.
"I can't think of a better way to finish it out, going back to the championship," said Lynch, who has unofficially committed to attend Maryland next season. "It doesn't get any better than that."
Lynch, who also plays a key role on Dunbar's defense at outside linebacker, came through in the clutch on both sides of the ball. When his team needed a big run, he delivered; when they needed a big stand, he was there, too. In addition to his two touchdowns, Lynch had runs of 43, 63 yards and 25 yards.
Another key to Dunbar's victory was Coach Craig Jeffries's decision to pull starting quarterback Josh Cribbs midway through the second quarter. Cribbs, recovering from a broken ankle that had kept him out the past six weeks, struggled. Jeffries put in Michael Coles, who was 5-1 as a starter in Cribbs's absence, and the team immediately responded. Coles completed 5 of 10 passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
"Usually the starter never loses his job because of injury," Jeffries said. "But Josh wasn't quiet ready. We needed to get Michael in there."
Wade was dominant in the first semifinal. Wade ran 29 times despite playing on a sore ankle that has kept him out of the defensive lineup (he also has played at linebacker) recently. He gained 250 yards on 15 carries in the first half and scored three touchdowns as the Ramblers (9-3) took a 32-12 lead into intermission.
"I have to give all the credit to my offensive line," said Wade, who led the DCIAA in rushing this season with 1,850 yards in the regular season. "They did such a great job, I'm going take them all out to dinner."
Wilson finished 3-9.