Dunkirk downs Albion, 25-7; to face Cheektowaga in semifinals
Devaun Farnham-DeJesus made the switch from wide receiver to quarterback this week, but he only needed his right foot to make a lasting impact in No. 3 Dunkirk’s 25-7 win over No. 6 Albion (6-2, 4-1) Friday night in a Section 6 Class B quarterfinal football matchup at Karl Hoeppner Field.
Down 7-6 with just 10 seconds left in the first half, Farnham-DeJesus snuck a 45-yard field goal over the goal post to put the Marauders (7-1, 4-1) up for good, 9-7.
“As a coaching staff, we’re comfortable knowing that we don’t have to punch it in, and that we can rely on him” Dunkirk head coach Mike Sarratori said. “He put a 50-yarder in at practice (Thursday), so we were fairly confident that he would make it.”
After allowing a Demetrius Gardner to cap a 12-play, 81-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown, Dunkirk’s defense went back to its bend-but-don’t-break mantra and shut down an Albion offense — one that had averaged 33.8 points per game coming into Friday night’s quarterfinal matchup — for the second time in three weeks.
“They were swarming all over the field,” Sarratori said of his team’s defense. “They weren’t letting up and that’s the best we’ve tackled all year.
“The kids really played together,” Sarratori added. “We’ve been waiting for that game for a long time. I don’t mean (playing) Albion, but just seeing our kids play to our potential and I think we did that (Friday) and I think we did really well.”
On the other side of the ball, Farnham-DeJesus helped control the tempo while Jazzy Rivera and Quantavis Kleckley led the way on the ground.
“It’s his first time out for football at the varsity level and his first time playing quarterback in a playoff game or playing quarterback period,” Sarratori said. “And he was pretty impressive.”
Farnham-DeJesus finished the night 5 or 7 through the air for 69 yards and added 45 more on the ground on 10 carries while Rivera finished the night with 109 yards on 8 carries. Kleckley led Dunkirk’s ground attack with 125 yards on 22 attempts while adding two second-half touchdowns.
“Jazzy was all for it,” Sarratori said of Rivera’s reaction to being replaced at quarterback this week. “He said, ‘Hey, coach, I’ll go anywhere else, just let me know.’ And he did.
“He played a lot of positions (Friday),” Sarratori added of Rivera. “He played fullback, tight end, four-back, and flanker. We need our athletes on the field this time of year, so we’re going to put them on the field.”
Holding their 9-7 lead to open the second half, the Marauders took their opening drive down to the Albion 11-yard line before stalling and turning it over to Farnham-DeJesus and his right foot one more time, with the senior connecting this time on a 25-yard field goal to put Dunkirk up, 12-7, with 7:32 left in the 3rd quarter.
Dunkirk forced Albion to punt on its next possession as the game turned into a battle for field position until mid way into the fourth quarter when Kleckley was able to put some distance between the Marauders and the Purple Eagles, as he busted off a 40-yard touchdown run with 6:03 left in regulation to help put Dunkirk up 18-7.
“(Albion) was chopping at his legs with number 12 or 14 and they did a nice job,” Sarratori said. “But he kept at it and started to break some (longer runs). And that’s what we tell him. We tell him to keep at it, because he’s going to break one sooner or later.”
After the Purple Eagles failed on a fake punt and turned the ball over on downs, the Marauders took over at the Albion 37-yard line. From there, Kleckley and the Dunkirk offensive line took over, with the junior running back capping the 8-play drive with a seven-yard scamper around the right side with 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter, helping the Marauders to the 25-7 final.
“We just corrected some things that they were confused on in the first half,” Sarratori said of the Marauders’ rushing attack. “I thought they still did well in the first half. We just wanted to play with an attitude (Friday). I think we got away from that last week, but they did a hell of a job (Friday).”
Like it has done in its recent history, Dunkirk was able to answer Albion’s first score with one of its own, as Issiah Velez raced around the right side from eight yards out, before leaping over a pair of Purple Eagle defenders into the end zone to get Dunkirk to within, 7-6, with 6:47 left in the second quarter.
“We’ve been doing it for a couple of years now and the kids are just resilient,” Sarratori said of his team’s ability to answer the other team’s scores. “They’re good kids and they don’t want to lose. Last week was kind of a slap in the face. It’s never a good thing to lose, but maybe they needed it. This is what I was hoping for and expecting.”
Up next for Dunkirk is a trip to take on No. 2 Cheektowaga (7-1, 5-0) in a Sectional semifinal on Friday, Oct. 27. The Marauders defeated the Warriors 46-35 in last year’s Class B final at New Era Field. This time around, the winner will have the right to play for another Sectional title at the home of the Buffalo Bills.
“They’re very athletic, they’ve got a lot of people playing and they play two platoon and a lot of it,” Sarratori said of the Warriors, which defeated No. 7 Depew, 49-0, Friday night. “They’re a talented and fast team and it’s going to be another good one.
“We’re both fast and athletic and aggressive,” Sarratori added when asked to compare his Marauders to the Warriors. “But we’ll see. It’s going to be fun.”
NOTES: Dunkirk out-gained Albion 389-71, including a 320-11 edge on the ground… Sabian Smith had three receptions for 54 yards in the win… Defensively, Gabe Vega had 6.5 tackles, including a sack for Dunkirk while Koty Leeper added 5.5 tackles with 1.5 sacks… Elsewhere in Class B Friday night, No. 4 Maryvale edged No. 5 Newfane, 18-15. The Flyers will take on the winner of No. 1 Lackawanna and No. 8 Pioneer next week. The Steelers and Panthers play this afternoon at 1 p.m.