CHEEKTOWAGA - Dunkirk (2-3) couldn't contain Marquel Jackson and suffered a tough 44-26 loss to Cheektowaga, Friday night in Class B action.
Jackson scored on three longs runs and routinely kept drives alive for the Warriors as the Marauders were dealt a serious blow to their playoff hopes.
"Jackson was everything that he looked like on film," Dunkirk coach Rob Genco said. "His speed was not like anything that we've seen this year.
The Cheektowaga running back scored from 29 yards out to open the scoring in the first quarter.
"We had a couple big stops right in the first series, but he still ended up breaking a long one," Genco continued.
Dunkirk was able to answer right back when Nick Barlette found paydirt on a 22-yard run. The Marauders missed the two-point attempt and trailed 8-6.
The Warriors showed off their aerial attack on their following drive, which was capped by a 29-yard touchdown toss from Tim Wellan to Preston Summers.
After a Dunkirk punt, Summers broke free on an 80-yard scamper that put Cheektowaga up, 23-6.
"We were unable to bottle him up either," Genco said of Summers. "He was just as elusive as Jackson, just not as fast."
But again the Marauders refused to go away. Barlette continued his big day with a long touchdown run of 59 yards. He finished with 141 yards on eight carries and a pair of touchdowns.
"We came in knowing that after Barlette had that run last week, he was going to get some reps," Genco added. "It was a process that was bound to happen with him. Tonight, Nick Barlette was born. We've got ourselves a pretty good running back here."
Neither team was finished scoring before halftime.
A little trickery resulted in a big play for Cheektowaga. Facing a 4th-and-13, the Warriors lined up in punt formation, but called a direct snap to Jackson, who wove his way downfield for a 63-yard touchdown.
"Big plays," Genco sighed. "We would stop them and stop them and then they'd get these big plays.
"It was huge because we had just scored," Genco added of the play. "If we could have gotten the ball back we had a chance to tie the game."
They didn't tie the game, but the Marauders were able to squeak one more score in before halftime when a four-minute drive was capped by a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Kevin Burns to bring Dunkirk within 29-18 at the break.
Burns rushed for 41 yards on 11 carries and was 4 of 10 for 57 yards through the air.
Both teams played better defensively in the second half and the only score of the third quarter came on a 20-yard pass from Wellan, who passed for 248 yards and three touchdowns.
"Their guys just went up and got the ball," Genco explained of Cheektowaga's success through the air. "That's what they do. We had our guys there, they just out-jumped us and came down with the ball."
Jackson all but sealed Cheektowaga's win with a 54-yard touchdown run that put the Warriors ahead 44-18.
Nick Bomasuto helped at least make things interesting when he scored on a 16-yard run in the fourth quarter that pulled Dunkirk to 44-26.
Bomasuto carried the ball eight times for 56 yards and a score.
Though the loss hurts, Dunkirk's season isn't over and it will prepare for next Saturday's game against Springville.
"We're going to get refocused," Genco concluded. "We have a tough game coming up that we have to win to make the playoffs."