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Ramblers defeat Indians to make DCIAA playoffs
(Published November 17, 2003)

By DAVID STEINBACHER
Special to The Common Denominator

The Eastern Ramblers flexed their defensive muscles and catapulted themselves into the DCIAA semi-finals with a convincing 18-2 win over East Division rival Anacostia on Nov. 14.

Eastern, with Head Coach Burnell Irby back on the sideline for the first time this season following eye surgery, improved to 3-1 in league play. Anacostia, coached by Willie Stewart, dropped to 2-2 in division contests.

Midway through the second quarter, the visiting Anacostia Indians took a 2-0 lead when the Eastern ball carrier was tackled in the endzone by a host of Anacostia defenders, including Scirroco Jackson, Jerome Kennedy, Alfonso
Moore and Josh Bell.

It appeared that the red, white and blue Indians would take that 2-0 "baseball-like" lead into intermission, but Rambler senior quarterback Herbert Arrington III had different plans. With time running down in the second stanza, Arrington connected with senior wide receiver Steven Williams on a beautiful 29-yard scoring strike. Williams beat two Anacostia defenders in the right corner of the endzone and made an excellent grab with just 12 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

"We needed a score right then and right there," said Arrington. "Herbert has put forth a real outstanding ‘senior effort’ all season," said Coach Irby.

Williams said he "ran a ‘fade route.’"

"We needed a score in order to get the momentum going into halftime," he said.

Eastern offensive/defensive standout senior Giles Britt recovered an Indian fumble early in the third quarter. Eight plays later, Britt had the honor of scoring from 14 yards out. The two-point PAT attempt was no good, and the Ramblers led 12-2 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.

"Giles is a very good running back. He really keeps his feet moving," Irby said.

Anacostia embarked on a 14-play, 55-yard drive, but turned the ball over on downs at the Rambler 30-yard line. Defensively for Eastern on that sequence, junior linebacker Tony Vincent recorded both a pass breakup and a quarterback sack.

"We were trying to get back into the game, but we were just not able to," said Anacostia Coach Stewart.

Each team fumbled the ball away on their next possessions. Anacostia's Josh Bell recovered the Eastern fumble.
Eastern's Keyon Parker recovered the Anacostia fumble. After turning the ball over on downs, the Eastern defense proceeded to come up with the biggest defensive play of the contest. Rambler senior defensive tackle Bellini Stevens intercepted a short Indian pass over the middle and rambled down the field and into the
endzone from 25 yards out.

"I got around their offensive guard. The Anacostia quarterback didn’t see me, but I saw the ball in the air," Stevens said. "I grabbed it and proceeded to score. It was my first defensive touchdown this season."

Eastern defensive coordinator Isiah Harris had praise for the Ramblers’ defense.

"We really put a lot of defensive pressure on them tonight," he said.

The ensuing two-point PAT was also no good, but the Ramblers took a commanding 18-2 lead with 7:18 remaining in the fourth quarter. Anacostia only had one more offensive series in the game. Even though the Indians moved 38 yards on nine plays, Eastern junior defensive back Delvin Savoy intercepted a long Anacostia pass to thwart Anacostia’s final attempt to score a touchdown.

With the conclusion of the game, the Eastern players celebrated mightily, knowing that a fierce semi-final playoff game versus West Division champion Dunbar was certain.

"Eastern is a good team. One of our players that really stepped up tonight was senior two-way lineman Alfonso Moore," said Indians’ Coach Stewart. "Finishing the season and having all of the players stick together this season was certainly rewarding."

Harris said the Ramblers are "really going to have to play mistake-free football" to beat Dunbar and advance to the Turkey Bowl title game.

Irby said he’s hoping his team will not only host the Thanksgiving Day championship this year, but also be playing in it. "This Eastern team is really starting to come together," he said.

Copyright 2003, The Common Denominator