Caesar Rodney erases early deficit, nips Cape Henlopen 31-28

CR quarterback Tremere Woodlin hands the ball off to senior Manny Kennedy. Delaware State News/Ben Heck

LEWES — It took a few adjustments, but once the Caesar Rodney High ground game got going, it was difficult to slow down.

The Riders used a strong second-half performance to erase an early double-digit deficit and come away with a 31-28 road victory over Cape Henlopen High Friday night.

It marks CR’s second consecutive win over a Henlopen North opponent and improves its overall record to 3-4.

“Kudos to Cape, they played a heck of a game,” said CR coach Dan Candeloro. “They played hard. I know they’re young, but I tell you what, they’re very scrappy.”

“It happened before against Caravel Academy,” junior quarterback Tremere Woodlin said of the early deficit. “We knew we just had to bring ourselves together and play together. Once we do that, we’re unstoppable.”

The Riders ran for 260 yards and a trio of touchdowns on 46 rushing attempts. The attempts were split between six different runners.

CR junior running back Kendall Smith looks to avoid a Cape defender in the backfield.

Woodlin tallied three touchdowns — a pair of rushing and one passing. He totaled 82 yards through the air with another 41 yards on the ground.

“All of our props go to our offensive line,” said Woodlin. “They just keep pushing, don’t give up and get us up the field.”

Senior running back Manny Kennedy racked up 130 yards and a touchdown on his 22 carries. He ran for a 27-yard score to extend the team’s lead late in the game.

Cape’s ground game was led by junior Jaden Davis as he totaled 123 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.

Sophomore quarterback Hank D’Ambrogi ran for a 1-yard touchdown and kicked a pair of long distance field goals from 40 and 41 yards out.

Jordan Baines ran for a five-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

The Riders’ offense went three-and-out on its first two possessions, fumbled the ball away on its third and turned it over on downs the fourth time it touched the football.

Cape’s Jaden Davis (21) is greeted by his linemen after a second half touchdown run.

It took until the team’s final drive of the first half to put everything together and put the ball into the end zone, and by that time the Riders had already trailed 10-0.

D’Ambrogi’s 40-yarder put Cape ahead 3-0 at the 10:17 mark of the second quarter and Baines’ five-yarder with 2:21 left in the half gave the Vikings’ the early lead.

On the ensuing possession, CR took advantage of the great field position and orchestrated a quick five-play, 61-yard scoring drive. Woodlin capped it with a 39-yard TD strike to Corey Handy.

The two-point run from Kennedy made it a 10-8 game with 44 seconds until the break.

After four quick plays, Cape managed to get within D’Ambrogi’s range. The placekicker drilled a 41-yarder as time expired in the half to extend the lead to 13-8.

“We had some bad field position early and they did a nice job giving us a long field, but after halftime we kind of settled down and got into our game plan a little better, had some shorter fields and we had some nice drives,” said Candeloro.

After opening the half with another lost fumble, Caesar Rodney didn’t get the ball again until halfway through the quarter.

It took eight plays for the CR’s run game put the Riders ahead for the first time. Woodlin’s four-yard score with 2:33 left in the quarter gave the Riders the 16-13 advantage.

“We knew we didn’t do a good job in the first half, so coach talked us up in the locker room and we picked it up in the second half,” said Kennedy.

D’Ambrogi and the Cape offense responded with an eight-play scoring drive of its own, capped by a seven-yard score from Davis to put the Vikings back ahead, 20-16, early in the fourth quarter.

A 10-play drive, capped by Woodlin’s three-yard rushing touchdown at the 5:24 mark, put the Riders ahead 24-20.

Exactly one minute later, CR’s defense forced and recovered a Cape fumble. It took just three plays for Kennedy to extend the lead with his 27-yard touchdown scamper.

“It was 24 guard trap, the line opened it up,” Kennedy said of the TD. “I haven’t seen an opening like that in a little bit, so when I saw it I said, ‘I’m taking advantage of it.’ Coaches wanted me to go down, but I was like, ‘nah, it’s right there, I’m going to take it in.’”

Trailing by two scores, Cape wasn’t ready to give up. With just under three minutes to play, D’Ambrogi orchestrated a drive that started on Cape’s own 36-yard line.

D’Ambrogi completed five of his six pass attempts on the drive, capping it with a one-yard QB keeper.

The successful two-point converted by Davis brought the score to within 31-28, but CR recovered Cape’s onside kick attempt and ran out the rest of the clock for the win.

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