The Dunkirk Marauders most definitely saved the best for last as they routed the Amherst Tigers, 46-6, to snap a five-game losing streak.
"This game was everything we wanted it to be," Dunkirk coach Rob Genco said. "We got some jayvee guys to come up and some even started. Others got into the game and made some big plays. We also got our seniors to go out with a big win and kind of pass the torch to the younger guys."
The Marauders' defense played a big part as they were able to stop the Tigers early and often which gave the offense good field position to work with.
OBSERVER?Photo by Lisa Monacelli
Dunkirk senior running back Zach Torain looks for running room during the Marauders’ non-league game against Amherst, on Thursday, at Karl Hoeppner Field.
Rashad Graham got the scoring started for the Marauders when he took a handoff and burst up the middle for a 58-yard touchdown with 2:18 left in the first quarter.
After a failed two-point conversion, Dunkirk was able to pin Amherst deep on the ensuing kickoff.
From there the Tigers went three-and-out and a poor punt resulted in Dunkirk taking over at the Amherst 38-yard line.
It took just a handful of plays for Zach Torain to reach the end zone from 5 yards out.
Dunkirk tacked on the two-point conversion to make it 14-0 before halftime.
"We were able to use multiple backs and have some success inside," Genco said. "I can't thank our seniors enough who stuck with it like Torain, Kevin Burns, Edwin Gomez and Jared Miernick."
Amherst was able to answer before halftime as it went on a methodical drive and ate up almost eight minutes of clock.
With :52 left in the second quarter, Casey Brown caught a touchdown from 10 yards out to make the score 14-6 before the break.
The Marauders regained momentum in the second half as it took just three minutes to reach the end zone again.
Edwin Gomez took a reverse in from 12 yards out and followed that up by catching the two-point conversion in the back of the end zone to make the score 22-6.
Dunkirk's defense came up big once again in the second half when it was able to keep the Tigers out of the end zone after turning the ball over in Amherst territory.
"They were a tough team," Genco said of Amherst. "The biggest thing for our defense was to try to contain their athletes. A couple of times we lost the edge, but for the most part we contained them and forced them to pass the ball, which was something their quarterback doesn't have a lot of experience in."
Nick Bomasuto came up with the interception that kept the Tigers from scoring.
Dunkirk drove the length of the field before fumbling inside of Amherst's 10-yard line.
Later in the game, Dunkirk scored once more on a screen pass to Bomasuto and added a two-point conversion on a pass to Miernick.
"Miernick is a great leader," Genco said. "He kept this team calm, cool and collected. These seniors did a great job showing these young guys how to finish and did a good job stepping aside when it came time for some of the jayvees to step in."
Dunkirk went up 38-6 when Nick Barlette scored from 55 yards out, which was coupled with another two-point conversion by Gomez.
Barlette led the team in rushing with 127 yards on seven carries, while Graham had 73 on six attempts.
The Marauders rushed for 280 yards total as a team.
With just seconds left the Marauders reached paydirt once more.
In fitting fashion it was one of the young players to score the final touchdown.
LeRoy Gilbert came in and stripped an Amherst runner and took the ball all the way to the house to make the game 46-6.
"Gilbert came through with the strip and the touchdown which was great to see," Genco said. "Tristan Peck played great at linebacker and made some nice tackles and we had Richard Pickens start at cornerback for us and play well. This was a big win to get these guys excited for next year, because if the score was the other way around we would have a hard time getting some of these guys excited to come out next year."