Dover topped by powerful Baltimore Dunbar 50-28 on road

BALTIMORE — Dover High started strong but couldn’t finish Friday night, losing 50-28 as the team opened several hours from home against powerful Dunbar, which made it to the Maryland 2A state championship game last year.

The Senators were gashed on the ground and faltered after the first quarter, falling to Senator coach Dante Jones’ alma mater.

Jones said afterward he was pleased with some aspects of his team’s performance.

“We see a lot of bright spots,” the third-year coach said. “We got to learn how to close. Close can be a third, fourth down we need to make a stop. Close can be understanding where the sticks are to get a first down.”

The game, and the season, got off to a tremendous start for Dover. Playing at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute, Dover came up with an interception on the third play of the game, setting the Senators up in good field position.

Senior quarterback Triston Harris then ripped off a 44-yard run to give his team first-and-goal. Junior tailback Jerry Warren scored the first points of the season three plays later as Dover took an early 7-0 lead.

Dunbar answered with a long touchdown drive, going ahead 8-7. After a Dover drive stalled, the Senators punted, but the Poets fumbled away the kick.

The Senators went 20 yards in four plays to take back the lead, and the quarter ended with them up 14-8. Unfortunately for the Dover faithful who made the long trip to Baltimore, it was the last advantage the team would have.

Dunbar tied the game with 4:11 remaining in the second quarter on a wild fourth-down play, where Daquan Smith caught a 20-yard pass for a score. The ball was tipped by a defender, who was in good position, but it went straight to the taller Smith.

The Poets then blocked a punt with 90 seconds to go before halftime, setting them up for another scoring opportunity. Doing his best Calvin Johnson impression, Daquan Townes went up and over a defender to haul in a 15-yard touchdown pass, stealing away a potential interception.

A series of mistakes by Dover early in the third quarter allowed Dunbar to expand its 22-14 halftime lead.

A Senator wideout was stripped on the first play of the second half, and the defender returned the ball 40 yards to the end zone.

After a failed fake punt on its next possession, Dover gave the Poets good field position. They capitalized, scoring on a rushing touchdown to stretch the score to 34-14.

Dover did have some success on offense, but several drives stalled. The Senators were guilty of a number of penalties, particularly false starts, which made manageable situations more difficult.

“We moved the ball well,” Jones said.

The Senators refused to go down, however, as a big pass from Harris set up a Warren touchdown. That cut the score to 13 with 7:42 remaining in the third quarter. but Dunbar’s Avery Thurman, who eluded defenders all night, scored the first of his two touchdowns about five minutes later.

In the final period, another Warren touchdown made it a 14-point game once more. However, a last-gasp fake punt by Dover came up just short halfway through the fourth quarter.

Dunbar scored one final time in the last 90 seconds to make the margin 50-28.

The Senators host Baltimore Polytechnic Institute this Friday. Jones said many of the coaches there worked with him when he was at Edmonson High School in Baltimore.

“Coming off the first game, we got a lot of bright spots,” he said. “We got a long season. We’re going to keep working hard.”

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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