ALDEN - There was a moment in the second quarter on Friday night when the visiting Dunkirk Marauders looked as though they were ready to give their Alden hosts a rude welcome to Class B South football.
Then - in a 3:47 span in which the Bulldogs (1-0, 1-0) ran just three offensive plays - the dream of what would have been a stunning upset disappeared.
Third-team All-New York State quarterback Brian Stoldt tossed a 60-yard touchdown pass on third-and-eight to wide receiver Shawn Cooper at the 8:23 mark of the second quarter and defensive back Lyle Grant fell on a loose ball in the Marauders (0-1, 0-1) end zone just over two minutes later, building an 18-7 lead en route to a 32-7 Alden victory.
"Not protecting the ball, making mistakes, that's the difference between a team that expects to win and a team that is trying to learn how to win," Dunkirk coach Tim Majka said. "Our effort was there. Guys played tough. We just have to limit our mistakes."
The win marked the first career victory for first-year Bulldogs coach Rob Currin, who replaces storied Alden and Albion coach Dick Diminuco. Diminuco spent the previous four seasons at Alden, posting a 31-3 record, and had coached at Albion for 35 years.
Alden was also playing its first game in Class B South after spending the previous two seasons in Class B North.
"I'm overwhelmed with emotion at this point," Currin said. "I'm just very proud. I'm very proud of our kids, and I'm very proud of how we played tonight."
The Marauders played well in bursts against the three-time sectional champions, but were hounded by mistakes and an inability to close out the high-powered Bulldogs offense when opportunities arose.
After surrendering a 13-yard touchdown pass from Stoldt to Ryan Richards on third-and-six on Alden's opening driveto fall behind, 6-0, Dunkirk - led by first-year varsity quarterback Josh Goodwin - moved the ball well against a Bulldogs defense led by 6'5, 227-pound senior end Phil Zobrest, 6'5, 257-pound senior lineman Eric Feitshans and a 5'10, 205-pound sophomore missile at linebacker named A.J. Patterson.
That drive ended when Goodwin and senior running back Nick Bomasuto fumbled the exchange on a first-and-10 play from the Alden 36-yard line.
The Dunkirk defense responded, harassing Stoldt into a 4-yard sack and forcing a punt with on the next Bulldog possession. Defensive ends Lucas Lugen and Willie Ray established themselves as thorns that would remain in Alden's side until the final whistle.
Taking the ball from their own 48 with 56 seconds remaining in the first quarter, moved to the Bulldogs' 34-yard line, where the 5'9, 145-pound Goodwin - on a third-and-seven play - broke a spectacular run around the left end of the Dunkirk line, narrowly avoiding a charging Zobrest in the backfield before breaking around the corner, accelerating through the Alden secondary and scoring what would be the Marauders' only touchdown of the game.
"He is small, but his heart is probably the size of his whole body," Majka said. "He really laid everything on the line. He was better than I expected him to be. He was more calm than I expected him to be for the first time starting on varsity. There's so much upside for him."
The moment would not last. Stoldt responded with his 60-yard strike to Cooper, a muffed snap on a Dunkirk punt attempt led to Grant's score, and a pair of offsides penalties on what began as an Alden field goal attempt on fourth-and-goal from the Marauders' 13-yard-line with 5.5 seconds remaining in the first half instead gave Stoldt an opportunity to toss a three-yard touchdown to Austin Hopcia at the right pylon as time expired, allowing the Bulldogs to head back to the locker room with a 25-7 lead.
Stodt would finish with 10-for-12 on pass attempts for 167 yards and four touchdowns.
"I thought that (Stodt) was OK," Majka said. "We gave him some different looks at the beginning of the game, mixed up some coverages, but the fact is that a three-year starter is going to find that opening and hit those open guys. He was good - he's as advertised, and he's obviously the leader of that team."
The Marauders were held scoreless in the second half. Goodwin finished the game three completions on six passing attempts for 31 yards and one interception. He also ran five times for 57 yards.
Bomasuto rushed for 21 yards on eight attempts and Nick Bartlette added 17 yards on nine runs.
Ray and Lugen each had eight tackles. Lugen and Shane Guziec were each credited with one sack.
Dunkirk will play at Springville on Sept. 13. Game time is 7:30 p.m.