Dunkirk saw its chances of making the playoffs disappear Friday night, as the Marauders (2-4, 2-3) fell to Springville Griffith Institute (2-4, 2-2), 20-0, during Class B South football action at Karl Hoeppner Field.
"They know that our chances of competing for the Sectionals is over," Dunkirk head coach Rob Genco said. "It's hard for them and a lot of them were hurt. And they should be, because they care. It hurts."
Offensively, Dunkirk was unable to get anything going, finishing with 11 net yards while allowing Kevin Burns to be sacked six times for a loss of 47 yards.
OBSERVER?Photo by Justin?Goetz
Springville’s Chris Phinney (44) tries to bring down Dunkirk’s Kevin?Burns (12) during Friday’s?Class B high school football game.
"We've been putting pressure on people lately," Springville head coach John Sopko said. "But I think tonight was pretty special, because of looking at the people that were able to do it. We expect it from some guys, but the guys that got involved tonight, it was nice to have that addition."
The Marauders' defense played tough as well, and was able to keep Dunkirk in the game in the first half, but it fell behind 13-0 after a late touchdown in the second quarter put two possessions between themselves and the Griffins.
Nick Barlette fumbled on the Marauders' first possession, but Tyler Conklin coughed the ball up at the Dunkirk 3-yard line, giving the Marauders the ball back. Unable to do anything offensively, Dunkirk was forced to punt from its own end zone, but a decent return gave Springville a drive start at the Marauders' 20-yard line.
Five plays later, Conklin found the end zone from 5 yards out, helping the Griffins to a 7-0 lead.
"In the first quarter, and in the first half overall, yes," Sopko said of whether or not he was happy with the way his team's offense performed. "I was not happy with the way we ran the ball in the second half."
As bad as the Marauders' offense was, their defense was just as good, as it was able contain a Springville offense that spent the majority of the game starting its drives inside Dunkirk territory.
Before the first half was over, however, Dunkirk's defense faltered, allowing Billy Dickinson to find Ethan Benz from eight yards out with :59 seconds left before the break.
"We've been down 13 before," Genco said. "We knew that we needed to score two touchdowns to win the game. And we can do that."
Unfortunately for the Marauders and their fans on hand to celebrate homecomeing, Springville was able to chew up enough yards on the ground - they finished with 252 yards on 48 carries - and were able to put enough pressure on the Dunkirk offense, that the Marauders were unable to put together any semblance of a threat.
"We were schemed right, they just were better," Genco said. "Up front, we couldn't block them. Our guys were going in the right directions for the most part. They were just ripping across our face and beating our blocks. Every single play, we had somebody designed to block them and on almost every play we ran, they beat our blockers."
Tyler Studd and Brandon Ball combined for five sacks for the Griffins while Studd accounted for nine tackles on the night.
The Griffins added a touchdown late in the fourth quarter as Dickinson found Benz for the second time, this one from 17 yards out. The point after was good, leaving the score at 20-0.
"I didn't make the rules for the playoff system," Sopko said, insinuating that his team was not running up the score for no reason. "So, whether people like it or not, scores do matter."
Springville will play at Olean (2-3, 1-2) next Saturday, at 6:30 p.m., in a game that could have major playoff implications, depending on how the Huskies fared against East Aurora (1-4, 1-3) on Friday night.
Torain finished with 50 yards rushing on 11 attempts while leading the team with 11 tackles. Nick Bomasuto added 10 tackles and two fumble recoveries on the night for the Marauders while Jared Miernik chipped in nine tackles.
"Dunkirk gets to play in something bigger than most teams do and that's to play a crosstown rival," Genco said, referring to next Friday's game against Fredonia. "So they'll come fired up and want that game just like it would be if it were a playoff game."
For 19 seniors on the Dunkirk roster, Friday marked the last time they would take to Karl Hoeppner Field.
"I told them I appreciate how hard they work," Genco said of his seniors. "And kids like (Edwin) Gomez, and (Zach) Torain, and Marquel (Ruiz) and Jared (Miernik), and the guys that have been working ... Verek Nixon, a kid that's been there working hard every day, who hasn't got a lot of playing time - I wish it could have been different for them, but I told them I need them now to get us ready for next year. To lead us. To show these young guys and lead them in practice and now know that it's their opportunity to get ready for next year and get that playing time and that experience."