Dayton, Ohio — A rivalry that has controlled the City League the last couple of seasons has been Belmont and Dunbar. Belmont hadn’t lost a City League game coming into this matchup since they fell to Thurgood in October of 2014. The five-time defending City League champs have built a legacy the past couple of years and they look to extend that this season.
Dunbar senior quarterback Gregory Packnett said his thoughts coming into the game were “to stay calm, because I know there was going to be a lot of talking from both sides.” Packnett did just that.
The Wolverines controlled the tempo from the start. On the opening kickoff, Dunbar forced a fumble and then recovered it. Then Packnett kept it himself for 12 yards to put Dunbar up 6-0.
Because both teams had just two weeks to prepare for this game, there were a lot of penalties in the early going. Both teams followed up with three and outs. On the next drive however, Packnett delivered a beautiful ball to Jaquan Lusbourgh who found himself wide open for a touchdown. This put Dunbar up 12-0 with 8:37 remaining in the half.
Belmont quarterback Tavon Hardwick brought the Bisons back within one score as his draw play took him 50 yards and into the end-zone for a score right before halftime.
The score heading into the locker rooms was Dunbar leading 12-6. It was anyone’s game heading into the second half.
When asked how the team felt at halftime, Packnett said, “the team was very humble. We all put in our head that the score was 0-0 coming out from halftime and we had to keep the pressure on.”
The Wolverines applied the pressure right away, as on the opening drive of the second half, Packnett was able to convert on 4th & 4. He found Jamar Payton wide open on a slant route for the first down. Then a couple plays later he handed it off to running back Jacare Morris. Morris took it 18 yards to the house to put the Wolverines up 19-6.
Late in the third quarter, Dunbar had the ball on the 19 yard line on 4th & Goal following a sack. Packnett avoided pressure as he threw a beautiful ball which dropped off the hands of the receiver. This mistake opened the door for Belmont who took back over.
On that following drive, Belmont took the ball the length of the field and eventually found the end-zone. Hardwick handed it off to Tay Arnold who took it six yards for a touchdown. This brought Belmont back within six.
On the ensuing kickoff, Shaun Huffman brought the kickoff back for a touchdown for Dunbar. There were however a pair of penalties that would negate the touchdown. Huffman’s long return still setup Dunbar with good starting field position.
Dunbar then drove down the field and milked a lot of time off the clock. They drove it all the way to the one yard line before a fumbled snap resulted in a turnover. This gave the run heavy offense of Belmont a chance to go 96 yards in two minutes to win the game.
On a 2nd down pass attempt, Shaun Huffman dropped what would have been the game ending pick-six. Then, on the very next play Huffman made the play he missed out on earlier as he picked off Hardwick and returned it for a touchdown.
“I was excited and proud of my team ’cause we showed that we wanted that W,” said Huffman when talking about his pick-six. That touchdown gave the Wolverines a 25-13 lead which would seal the victory.
This loss would be the first loss for Belmont versus a City League opponent in six years. The Bisons will look to bounce back next week as they take on Ponitz at Welcome Stadium. That game will be on Friday night at 7.
For Dunbar, this is a season-defining win. The Wolverines will look to take control of the City League and they can do just that as they have a matchup against Meadowdale next Thursday at 7.