The Dunbar Poets of Baltimore City have enjoyed a dynasty of sorts, reaching the Maryland state football title game in seven of the last nine years, and winning nine state champions in school history. Unfortunately, there won’t be an eighth trip in 10 years, nor a 10th title this year, as the Poets fell, 17-8, to the Patuxent Panthers of Calvert County in the 2A state semifinals on Nov. 27 in Lusby, Md.

Long known for its stout defense, Dunbar appeared to have the semifinal well in hand after taking a 8-0 lead on a touchdown pass from quarterback Darius Jones-Clark in the first quarter. Patuxent struggled to produce early offense against the Poets and went scoreless during their first few possessions.

But the Panthers returned a kickoff for a touchdown to cut the Poets’ lead to 8-7, and took a 14-8 lead on long scoring drive in the second quarter. The Panthers then proved their defensive unit could be just as stingy as Dunbar’s, and held the Poets scoreless the rest of the way for the victory.

Dunbar ended its season with a 9-3 record, while Patuxent (11-2) moved on to play in its first state title game in school history. The Panthers will face Walkersville of Frederick County, Md. on Dec. 5 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.