Dunbar's game plan was simple: Stack the line of scrimmage and stop Eastern senior running back Lawrence Wade.
It worked to near perfection.
The 16th-ranked Crimson Tide dominated defensively and rolled to their second straight D.C. Interscholastic Athletic Association Turkey Bowl championship with a 22-0 victory over No. 19 Eastern yesterday before 5,000 at Eastern High in Northeast Washington.
Dunbar (9-3-1) extended its winning streak to seven games and has not lost to a league opponent since 1997. Last season, the Crimson Tide defeated Theodore Roosevelt, 28-20, in overtime to claim the DCIAA title. Eastern, seeking its first championship since 1990 when it defeated Wilson, 13-6, ended its season 9-4.
"It's a bigger achievement the second time," Dunbar Coach Craig Jefferies said.
Senior safety Marcus Wimbush (eight tackles) and senior defensive tackle Vincent Hawkins (seven tackles) anchored Dunbar's defense. Wade, the league's leading rusher the past two seasons, was held to 79 yards on 21 carries. He entered the game with 2,164 rushing yards, including a 308-yard, four-touchdown performance against Wilson in a 54-24 semifinal victory last week. In the teams' previous meeting Sept. 24, Wade rushed for 133 yards in a 38-6 loss.
"Our defense won this game for us," said Dunbar senior quarterback Michael Coles, who passed for 174 yards and a touchdown. "They were the key. They played great."
Said Eastern Coach Burnell Irby: "Dunbar came after [Wade] with everybody. Wherever he went, they went as well. They always knew where he was."
The game was delayed for about two minutes midway through the fourth quarter when a fight broke out in the stands behind Eastern's bench. The altercation sent much of the capacity crowd scurrying around the wet stands. No one was injured and there were no arrests made.
"It's always sad when that stuff happens," Jefferies said. "But that's not what the DCIAA is about. We have to remember [the fight] was not the only thing that happened."
Dunbar took control by scoring on its first possession. Coles threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Darrell Dowery with 9 minutes 2 seconds remaining in the first quarter to give the Crimson Tide a 6-0 lead. But Dunbar's momentum was halted by penalties (11 for 65 yards).
Eastern's offense never got started. Wade could not find maneuvering room (his longest run was 11 yards) and quarterback Jason Godfrey was harassed by senior linebacker Marc Pugh (five tackles and two sacks) into completing 2 of 17 passes.
"Everyone expected us to win," said Dunbar senior fullback-linebacker James Lynch, who scored two touchdowns and rushed for 73 yards on 20 carries. Last year he scored the winning touchdown on a six-yard run in Dunbar's double-overtime victory over Roosevelt in the title game. "This definitely feels better the second time around."
Dunbar opened the second half quickly. The Crimson Tide almost scored on its first drive, but Coles's pass to Steven Savoy was intercepted by Tarik Bundy in the end zone. Dunbar regained possession when Savoy intercepted Godfrey deep in Eastern territory.
Five plays later, Lynch scored his first touchdown on a two-yard run. Savoy caught Coles's two-point conversion pass to give Dunbar a 14-0 lead with 4:43 remaining in the third quarter.
Dunbar secured the win in the fourth quarter when Lynch scored on a four-yard run with 6:46 left.
"This is the best feeling," Dunbar junior wide receiver Ronald Mitchell said. "We've worked so hard for this all year long, from summertime until now. Two in a row, and I have a feeling we're going to be back next season."
Game summary on Page D10
* Notes: Bell of Northwest Washington was the last team to win three straight league titles (1964 to 1966). . . . Eastern is the only school to win four straight D.C. public school championships (1958-1961).
CAPTION: Dunbar wide receiver Darrell Dowery (8) is given a celebratory hug by Saddi Williams after giving the Crimson Tide a 6-0 lead on 19-yard touchdown reception in first quarter.
CAPTION: Dunbar's William Hibler Jr. intercepts first-half pass intended for Eastern's Lawrence Wade, who was held to 79 rushing yards after gaining 2,164 in previous 12 games.
CAPTION: Eastern quarterback Jason Godfrey turns but can't slip out of grasp of Dunbar's Larry Brown.