Paul Laurence Dunbar's La'Quan Taylor was gassed as he legged out the last 20 yards of his 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Tates Creek midway through the second quarter of Saturday night's season opener.
No matter the heat, no matter the exhaustion, no way was Taylor going to give out. "Doing it for my teammates motivated me," he said. "They got me to the end."
Taylor's TD was one of the big plays that helped the Bulldogs beat host Tates Creek 28-7 in a game that was supposed to have been played at Dunbar Friday night.
Storms forced a postponement and a different site, and Dunbar Coach Paul Rains admitted to "a lot of frustration.
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"It was worth it, though. It's a big sigh of relief to get this one under our belts."
Dunbar, which beat Tates Creek 28-16 in last year's playoffs, was considered the underdog this time around.The Bulldogs returned only three of 22 starters.
"Throughout the week Tates Creek was talking a lot of social media stuff," Dunbar linebacker DeRante Sanders said. "We didn't reply. We just took it all in, and replied tonight with a victory."
Sanders, who led the city in tackles last season as a sophomore, had seven tackles against the Commodores.Quinton Dixon was also a key on defense for the winners.
Dunbar's offense got a lift from some newcomers.
Tre Penny, a junior quarterback, did a nice job running the option. He ran for 49 yards, and completed two of four passes for 42 yards, including a 35-yard TD toss to Dontell Brown.
Junior Kendall Roberts also got time at QB and ably executed the offense. Nate Gay, a freshman, rushed 14 times for 111 yards and a TD.
Jay Coleman, a senior, had 66 yards on 12 carries. Ladarrius Morton, a 260-pound fullback, came in late to pound away. He had 35 yards, including a 6-yard TD.
After Dunbar took an 8-0 lead, Tates Creek answered with Max Sweet's 11-yard TD to make it 8-7. But Taylor ran back the kickoff to swing the momentum back to Dunbar.
The Commodores had a chance to tie it, but Jaren Shelby fumbled at the goal line and Sanders recovered the ball in the end zone.
Tates Creek, trailing 14-7 in the third quarter, drove to the Bulldogs' 15, but it fumbled on fourth-and-one to kill that threat.
The Commodores were making their debut under coach Antoine Sims, who scrapped the spread offense of previous years to go back to the I-formation.
After averaging 30 passes a game the last two seasons, Tates Creek quarterback Graham Gordon was 3-for-9 for 61 yards against Dunbar.
Shelby ran 18 times for 144 yards. Martavius Carter, who was supposed to split time at tailback, hurt his ankle in the opening minutes and sat out the rest of the game.
Paul Dunbar 28, Tates Creek 7
Tates Creek 0 7 0 0— 7
Paul Dunbar 0 14 6 8—28
PD—Nate Gay 12 run (Gay run). TC—Max Sweet 11 run (Jared Williams kick). PD—La'Quan Taylor 99 kickoff return (run failed). PD—Dontell Brown 35 pass from Tre Penny (run failed). PD—Ladarrius Morton 6 run (Penny run).
Records: Tates Creek 0-1; Dunbar 1-0