ANGOLA – The Dunkirk Marauders face a lot of uncertainties as the 2021 football season approaches. Led by new coach Mark Benton, with a roster that includes several sophomores and new players, while also dealing with challenges. problems with COVID-19 at the start of the season, Benton wonders how things were going to turn out given all the unusual circumstances.
“We didn’t have a pre-season, a new coach, a new system, new kids playing new positions”, Benton said. “It was our first game against a team playing their second game, while they were on the road on a Saturday morning. These are things that just don’t happen in college football to an average team. But I think we did a pretty good job.
And they did a good job. Despite a few mistakes, the Marauders came away with a 20-6 victory over the Lake Shore Eagles on Saturday morning from Lake Shore High School. Overall, while there were things that could have been fixed, Benton said he was just happy to get the win.
“We had a few good shots in the first half, we shot each other in the foot with fumbles and penalties, but overall a win is a win so I’m very happy. Benton said.
The first drive of the match, Dunkirk’s first drive of the season, ended with the best possible result. Junior running back Quanteer Neallard was the lucky charm of Dunkirk’s first possession, recovering the ball five times for 48 yards just on opening possession, which included a big 23-yard rush. Benton said with the wind blowing he tried to keep the Tory offense off and Neallard was the beneficiary of the races.
“Quanteer directed the ball well”, Benton said. “Sometimes we didn’t have the holes for him, but at first everything worked for him. I kept it conservative today because of the wind, but we wanted to wear them down and we did it early.
One of Dunkirk’s sophomores Teddy Roberts capped the opening practice with a touchdown, giving Dunkirk a 6-0 lead as they were unable to convert the two-way game. points. The touchdown wasn’t the last time Roberts had made an impact, both for better and for worse.
Dunkirk’s defense, which was shut down the entire game, forced one of Lake Shore’s many offensive punts. The Marauders appeared to be on the move again thanks to Neallard’s strength, but practice ran out of steam as a botched slam derailed that practice as the second quarter ended with Dunkirk holding their 6-0 lead.
The second quarter started with the exchange of two punts between the teams, before Dunkirk recovered the ball with just under four minutes to go, with an excellent position on the pitch, from the line. of the Eagles’ 32 yards. The Marauders got a first try, before facing a third and eight of 16, when Dunkirk quarterback Javier DeJesus found Roberts on a superb pass into the apartment which Roberts was able to run for the touchdown . This time around, the Marauders were able to convert to two-point play, increasing their lead to 14-0.
It looked like the Marauders had another scoring chance before half-time when Lake Shore’s Aiden Kazmarek missed the ensuing kickoff, which gave the Marauders the ball again on their own 49-yard line. with 38 seconds on the clock. However, a penalty derailed that threat, so Dunkirk entered the half with a 14-0 lead.
Lake Shore started the second half with the ball, when in the second game of the half, Lake Shore quarterback Jaden Kennedy threw a pass that was intercepted by the Marauders, giving Dunkirk possession. free. Two games later, the Marauders had managed to get the ball down to the four-yard line thanks to runs from Neallard and Roberts, but Roberts was unable to hold onto the ball on his transport, spitting it out and returning it. possession right away. to the Eagles.
The Marauders forced a turnaround on the downs, when Roberts again received the ball twice and knocked it out once again, cementing the day up and down for the thrilling second year.
“Teddy had a little fumblite today, but he’s a good sophomore. “ Benton said. “He’s a big, powerful kid. I expect big things from him, and he played good defensively and handled the ball well, he just struggled to hold onto the ball.
The Marauders’ defense forced a punt again, and as the third quarter slipped into the fourth, the Marauders put together a long and sustained workout, where DeJesus, Roberts and Neallard each took charge, topping by DeJesus scoring a two-yard touchdown just over a minute after the start of the fourth, extending the lead to 20-0.
Lake Shore’s only touchdown came in the next play of the scrum, which was a powerful 50-yard touchdown from Andrew Hughson of Lake Shore, who shrugged off several Marauder defenders on his way to the end zone. goals. That and a sleight of hand later, which saw Kennedy pass to Hughson, who walked over to wide receiver Rob Gillette, who then threw a pass to Drew Russel for a big win, were the only big ones. games that the Marauders abandoned that day.
“I don’t know what their total offense was, but it couldn’t be much” Benton said. “I was happy because we didn’t touch a lot in the pre-season because we’re learning a new system and we didn’t want someone to get hurt.”
The game ended with a swap of possessions between the two teams and no one scored, as the game settled into the 20-6 final. Overall, Benton said he was happy with the game, although there was room for improvement.
“We could go our separate ways, but I’m happy with the victory” Benton said. “It was 20-6, but we also left a few points on the board.”
The Marauders have played with 24 players, but Benton said they will collect three more next week as the team continues to deal with COVID-19 and other issues. That day, Neallard led the Marauders with 22 carries for 156 rushing yards, while Roberts had nine carries for 54 yards, two catches for 18 yards, one receiving and one rushing touchdown each, and two fumbles. DeJesus finished the game with nine carries for 39 yards, while completing two of his eight passing attempts for 18 yards and a touchdown.
For the Eagles, Kennedy finished the game 5/12 for 54 yards and one interception, while rushing the ball five times for six yards. Hughson was Lake Shore’s best offensive weapon, ending the game with five carries for 63 yards and a touchdown, leading the big 50-yard run.
Although they may have entered the victory column for their first game, the Marauders (1-0) are now in a gauntlet. Their next two games will be against Iroquois and Pioneer, two teams Benton knows to be tough.
“We have two mountains to climb in the next two weeks at Iroquois and Pioneer”, Benton said. “Iroquois is already number one and Pioneer still brings it, they’re still physical.
The Marauders will face the Iroquois at 7 p.m. on Friday, September 17 at Dunkirk High School. Lake Shore (0-1) will face East Aurora / Holland on the same day at home, starting at 6:30 p.m.