Sanchez hurls 4 touchdown passes as Smyrna rips CR 44-23

CAMDEN — When Smyrna High gets its spread offense cranked up, sometimes it feels like touchdowns can come from anywhere on the field.

Smyrna quarterback Aiden Sanchez prepares to throw a touchdown pass against CR in the first quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

It was like that at times on Friday night.

Quarterback Aiden Sanchez threw four scoring passes and five of the Eagles’ TD came from 21 yards out or farther as the Eagles finally put away a 44-23 victory over Caesar Rodney in Henlopen North football.

The sixth-straight victory for Smyrna (5-0 North, 6-2 overall) kept them alone in first place in the division. The Riders are 3-2 in the North, 3-5 overall after having a two-game winning streak snapped.

Sanchez, who completed 17-of-22 passes for 260 yards, threw three TD passes to senior receiver Makhi Jackson (8 catches-98 yards). His 30-yard scoring pass on a crossing pattern to Jackson gave the Eagles a more-comfortable 30-11 lead after its first drive of the second half.

“I’ve got to shout out these receivers for getting open,” said Sanchez. “They’re running amazing routes, getting open and I’m just putting the ball where they can get it. They’re making the play.

“I love the kid. Makhi and I worked over the off-season and I trust him to catch that ball for me.”

“On our offense, we’ve got a whole lot of playmakers,” said Jackson. “All we’ve got to do is put it in their hands and just do what we do. It feels good when we get big, explosive plays.”

Smyrna’s Cijion Smith gets tackled by CR’s Elijah Green and Cordero Smith after a reception in the first quarter.

Smyrna capped off its victory — its sixth in a row over CR — with a 65-yard touchdown run from Wayne Knight with 6:49 remaining.

But the Riders made some big plays of their own, getting a 70-yard scoring run from Manny Kennedy (10 carries-82 yards) as well as a 42-yard scoring pass from Tremere Woodlin to Anthony Rivera. CR, though, hurt itself with four turnovers.

Trailing 22-11 in the second quarter, the Riders had a chance to get even closer when lineman Ezra Pendleton intercepted a screen pass. His 13-yard return set up CR at the Smyrna five.

Two plays later, though, Smyrna’s Espie Hart recovered a Riders’ fumble to end the threat as the Eagles went into intermission with the 11-point advantage.

Sanchez, who threw the interception, was grateful to the Eagles’ defense for bailing him out.

“That’s never a position I want to put them in,” he said. “But I’m so thankful to have them to get me out of that position. I can’t thank them enough.”

Smyrna’s Cijion Smith catches a pass against Caesar Rodney in the first quarter.

The contest got off to a fast start. On just Smyrna’s third play from scrimmage,Sanchez found receiver Devin Smith for a 56-yard touchdown pass.

But on CR’s next play from scrimmage, Kennedy took a quick hitter up in the middle and sprinted 70 yards for a TD just 35 seconds later. Kennedy added the two-point conversion to knot the score at 8-8.

The Eagles answered with two more scoring drives in the first quarter. Sanchez hit Jackson for a pair of TD passes — a 21-yarder and a four-yarder.

CR could only come up with a 35-yard field goal from Justin Marconi as Smyrna held it 22-11 halftime lead. Besides Kennedy, sophomore Brock Conner added 67 yards on 11 carries.

The Riders haven’t beaten Smyrna since 2013 when they blanked the Eagles, 43-0, on their way to the DIAA Division I state semifinals.

myrna’s Darryl Williams gets hit by CR’s Maurice Hynson on a kickoff return in the second quarter.

The Eagles are starting to look like a return to the state tourney is inevitable for them. But coach Mike Judy also knows Smyrna still has a long way to go.

Smyrna were called for four personal fouls on Friday.

“That’s unacceptable,” said Judy.

“What I’d liked the most is getting a win in the North,” he added. “This thing is no joke. … There’s so much on the line for these teams. But I’m proud of us being physical, I’m proud of us executing and making adjustments.”

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