ANGOLA – Lake Shore head coach Dan Russell spoke to his team ahead of Thursday night’s first game of the season about making memories.
His team certainly made a few against Dunkirk a few hours later.
On the opening night of the Division VI high school football season, the Eagles scored one of the most thrilling wins of the entire year.
On the other side, Dunkirk suffered one of the toughest defeats a team will suffer this season as Lake Shore recovered a fumble on the goal line to hold on for a 26-20 victory in overtime .
“I’m proud of the way the kids played. We are such a young team. said Dunkirk head coach Mark Benton. “Either team could have won this match. …I guess it just wasn’t for tonight.
Tied 20-20 after regulation, Lake Shore (1-0, B1 grade) appeared to score a touchdown on the first play of overtime, but was called up for a penalty. After several flags fell against the Eagles, Lake Shore was pulled back to the 30-yard line and faced a fourth-and-20. With the odds against them, the Eagles’ two biggest playmakers delivered. Senior quarterback Jaden Kennedy found senior wide receiver Aidan Kaczmarek on a deep ball on the Eagles sideline. Kaczmarek brought the ball home and evaded several Dunkirk tacklers to not only earn the first down but also fight his way into the end zone.
“Our two greatest playmakers have succeeded” Russell said of Kennedy and Kaczmarek’s eventual game-winning touchdown. “Not only did (Kaczmarek) get the catch in that situation, he finished it. … It’s that ‘wanting’. It’s the thing that you can’t measure.
The moment was all the more special for Kennedy considering he didn’t start the game under center. Sophomore Rob Gillette started out at quarterback before eventually handing over the reins to Kennedy, last season’s starter.
“I hope he takes this and gets away with it. There’s a reason he didn’t start and he knows why. said Russell of Kennedy. “But, at the end of the day, I told him when he gets the chance, to get in there and prove that he belongs there, prove that he has to be the one to lead this team, and he did. … I kept telling him to go back to the game, to be a king there. He was a king.
The first half of the contest was as thrilling as the conclusion. After Dunkirk (0-1, Class B2) turned the ball over to start the game, five consecutive drives ended in a touchdown one way or another – even though one was not in the game. expected direction.
With the game tied at 7-7 midway through the second quarter, Dunkirk senior two-way starter Quanteer Neallard intercepted a Gillette pass on the goal line and returned it 99 yards for a hit. After the extra point, Dunkirk led 14-7.
“He just read it perfectly,” Benton said of Neallard’s interception. “He made a sensational game. He’s a hell of an athlete. »
After the pick of six, Lake Shore made the switch for Kennedy at quarterback and it paid immediate dividends. Kennedy’s first play at quarterback was a 26-yard guard. Two plays later, Kennedy kept it again and reached the end zone for a 6-yard score. The Eagles rushed for 50 yards on three plays in 58 seconds to tie the game at 14-14.
Dunkirk responded on the next drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Noah Sikes to Trestin Briggs. The extra point was blocked which left the score at 20-14 with less than a minute to go.
The second half featured a scoreless third quarter before Lake Shore evened the score at 20 all on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Kennedy to Kaczmarek. The extra point has been blocked.
After each team traded unsuccessful drives, the stage was set for the Marauders to win on the final regulation drive. Dunkirk entered the red zone with less than two minutes left and cut time to 33.5 seconds for a first and a goal from the Eagles 5-yard line. A sloppy snap from the shotgun formation sent Sikes rushing after the ball, and after throwing it out of bounds into a defender’s hold, an intentional ground call sent Dunkirk back to the line. 33 meters. Two plays later, Sikes was intercepted on a deep ball on the Dunkirk touchline at the 5-yard line. Lake Shore took a knee to send the game into overtime.
Sikes – who was battling lower-body cramps throughout the second half and overtime – had a moment of redemption when he blocked the extra point on Lake Shore’s touchdown in overtime. This gave his team the chance to win the game with a touchdown and an extra point.
“I was worried he would be a bit starstruck tonight as it was his first start of the year but, my God, he played well,” said Benton of Sikes. “He made some great runs on broken plays. I’m really excited for him.
However, when Dunkirk raced all the way to the 3-yard line at third base, the exchange on a pass under center was missed and Lake Shore recovered to preserve the victory.
Dunkirk’s touchdowns on the night were a 10-yard pass from Sikes to Briggs; a 3-yard run by Sikes; and Neallard’s 99-yard interception return.
Lake Shore got a pair of Kennedy touchdowns in Kaczmarek; a rushing touchdown by Kennedy; and a rushing touchdown by Ashton Curry, the first score of the game.
Dunkirk takes on Olean in Dunkirk at 7 p.m. a week starting tonight, while Lake Shore hosts Iroquois next Friday at 6:30 p.m.