The streak continues
Dunkirk (0-7) will have to wait another year to put an end to its losing streak against arch-rival Fredonia (7-0), as the Hillbillies cruised past the Marauders, 55-22, at Karl Hoeppner Field Friday night during non-league football action.
“Fredonia is a good team,” Dunkirk head coach Tim Majka said. “Like I said earlier (in the week), they are not complicated, but what they do, they do well.”
The Hillbillies extended their win streak to 15 games over the Marauders and set a new single-game record for points scored in the 121-game rivalry.
“Last week was homecoming and there was a lot of energy around that,” Fredonia head coach Mike Marshall noted. “And this week, with the rivalry week, there was a lot of energy around that. But we’re trying to keep the boys focused on what we have to do down the road.”
The previous record of 44 points was recorded twice, once by Dunkirk in 1969 and once by Fredonia in 1990.
Matt McCarthy went over the 1,000-yard mark Friday night after he rushed for 202 yards on 19 carries while adding four touchdowns.
But Marshall knows his feature back hasn’t done all the work on his own.
“In order to have a 1,000-yard runner, and for as few times as he’s carried the ball this season, it’s huge to have a line in front of him like that,” Marshall said. “And just to have (Matt) McCarthy standing in the backfield, the defensive coordinator has to pay attention to him, because he can just break it in a heart beat.”
Through seven games, McCarthy has rushed for 1,103 yards on 86 carries while reaching the end zone 21 times.
“I think (Fredonia’s) speed caused us problems on the edge,” Majka said. “And we went to a three-man front because they like to get to the edge. They started mixing it up a little bit and gashing it inside.
“Fredonia executes very well,” Majka continued. “Very few times do they make mistakes.”
Coming into the game, Marshall wanted his team to show an improvement in the passing game and quarterback Weston Ley may have helped prove the Hillbillies aren’t just a one-trick pony as he finished 10 of 16 for 194 yards and two touchdowns, both to Dylan Meyer.
“Dunkirk played the zone (defense) and they played it well,” Marshall said. “But our guys found ways to get open and (Weston) Ley found ways to get the ball to them.”
Meyer, who is a standout on the Hillbillies’ basketball team, has proven he is quite the football player as well as has 463 yards receiving on 20 receptions, including three scores, in just four games.
“(Fredonia) has great athletes on the outside that are willing to do whatever they have to do to go get the ball,” Majka said. “And that makes a lot of difference.”
The Hillbillies got on the board first as McCarthy found the end zone from 13 yards out with 8:26 left in the opening quarter. After forcing the Marauders to punt, Fredonia needed just two plays to go 44 yards, as McCarthy scored on a 38-yard run to help the Hillbillies to a 14-0 lead with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
“He’s been doing his job again,” Marshall said of McCarthy. “He definitely appears to be (healed). This was the first week he’s practiced without a knee brace on and he wanted to play without a brace on.”
Dunkirk cut the lead to 14-6 after Rashad Graham, who finished with 209 yards on 24 carries, reached paydirt on a 60-yard scamper straight through the middle of the Hillbillies’ defense.
“We’ve got one more game with him,” Majka said of Graham. “He’s special. I wish we wouldn’t have had him banged up a couple of games this year and to our fault, we didn’t have him in the right position to start the year. I don’t know if that cost us any games or not, but I know it cost him a bunch of rushing yards. But he’s exciting to watch and he doesn’t quit. He epitomizes what our guys do through the game, they go 100 percent all the time.”
From there, the Hillbillies took over as they scored three of the game’s next four touchdowns. The first was a 29-yard pass from Ley to Meyer, the second a 3-yard run by McCarthy and the third was Meyer and Ley hooking up for a second connection, a 10-yarder that helped put the Hillbillies up 35-14 with :59 left in the first half.
“I think they have basketball players on the outside (and) all over the place,” Majka said. “They’ve got great ball skills. I give credit to Mike Marshall and his coaching staff for getting the kids in the right positions and coaching them up.”
Dunkirk’s second touchdown of the first half came on a Gage Austin 1-yard plunge that got Dunkirk to within two touchdowns at 28-14 with 1:52 left in the second quarter.
“Yeah, there is,” Marshall said of whether or not there are areas of the team’s rushing defense that still need improvement. “But a lot of it was people just making mistakes and trying to do too much, instead of playing their position.”
Fredonia started with a bang in the second half as John Piper took the opening kickoff back 77 yards for the score.
“That was really nice,” Marshall said of Piper’s kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half. “We’ve been waiting to score on a kickoff return all year long. That’s been one of our goals, especially with all of the kickoffs we’ve had. And (John) Piper, to take it to the house, that was great.”
The Hillbillies then added a touchdown on a 19-yard interception return by Meyer and a 10-yard run by McCarthy.
“I tried to keep their emotions in check,” Marshall said of his players. “Because what happens is, at the teenage level, and with such a long rivalry that we’ve had, people lose their cool real easily. And boy, all we needed was to lose a kid from this game (Friday) and have him disqualified for the next game. We’d really be hurting.”
The Marauders scored their final touchdown on a 1-yard jaunt by Juliam Fred with 2:12 left in the game.
“The better team won,” Majka said. “The more athletic team won. And that’s going to happen when they don’t make mistakes and you do.”
Up next for Fredonia will be Tonawanda, the No. 4 seed from Class C North. The teams will play next Friday, and if Marshall has it his way, the two teams will meet at Karl Hoppner Field, rather than Fredonia’s Orange Bowl.
“The turf, compared to our field, the jayvee game (Thursday) night was a mud fest by the time it was over with,” Marshall said. “And the midgets are playing there (today), so that’s three more games on the same field when it’s supposed to be raining. So we’re trying to get Dunkirk for our playoff field.”
Dunkirk will host Randolph in a non-league game that is also scheduled for next Friday.
NOTES: Cody Smith had a combined 15 tackles to lead the Fredonia defense while Piper and Anthony Swierk (sack) each had nine … Carlos Figueroa had nine tackles to lead the Marauders’ defense … Dunkirk leads the all-time series 63-47-11.