CR captures opener in 2-OT thriller, stops conversion to nip Jags 21-20

MIDDLETOWN — In a season opening football game full of stunning momentum shifts, Caesar Rodney High outlasted Appoquinimink 21-20 in two overtimes Friday night.

Rising to the occasion one final time, a mass of Riders’ defenders stopped a two-point conversion run just inches of paydirt to clinch the thriller.

Defensive tackle Jeremiah Brown emerged from the pileup holding the football in one hand and sprinted with it to midfield as a celebration erupted.

Just moments earlier, CR’s Emmanuel Kennedy pushed the ball toward the goal-line for an 8-yard touchdown run and Joseph Delgado kicked his third straight extra point for a 21-14 advantage. Kennedy lost control of the ball just after it was ruled a score, which fit the dramatic nature of the entire fourth quarter and overtime session.

Afterward, the jubilant visitors banged their chests and yelled “heart, heart, heart,” which is what head coach Dan Candleloro and staff preached in the followup to a 1-9 season in 2016.

“We showed a lot of fight out there and I love that,” the coach told his team afterward “It wasn’t always pretty, but we fought through it.”

Also, the coach said, “We’ve been stressing that we’ve got to play with heart. Every practice, every game we move forward, we don’t move back.”

The Riders overcame three lost fumbles in the fourth quarter that fueled Appo’s rally from a 7-0 deficit to 14-7 advantage with just 2:49 left in regulation.

Julian Trammell, however, snared the ensuing kickoff and went 65 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown that restored hope for CR. Delgado’s extra point tied the game at 14-14 with 2:32 remaining.

The Jaguars twice converted fourth and goal situations into 10-yard touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, with quarterback Shane Phipps connecting with Cameron Bernardo and Joe Scott-Thomas for clutch scores. The Jaguars first two-point conversion pass missed, but Phipps hit Scott-Thomas after the second touchdown for a seven-point lead.

Delgado actually had a chance to win the game twice with field goals – a 54-yarder that was well short to conclude regulation, and a 19-yarder that was blocked in the first overtime.

Keyed by an often ferocious defensive effort, CR held a 7-0 lead through three quarters before the game got wild. Leading the charge, among others, was DeAtley Bailey, James Holmes, Joshua Windsor, Trammell, Burris Indaveion, Kaleb Moseley, Kennedy, Tyrone Suarez, Jackson Rall, Lennox O’Keefe, David Louis, and William Burke. Suarez made an interception in the end zone during a two-point coversion try in overtime.

Just 17 seconds before halftime, Kevin Robinson spun away from a would-be tackler and scored the first points of the game on a five-yard touchdown run. The Riders had earlier gained great field position when punter Delgado pinned the Jaguars at their own 4-yard-line.

CR’s defense forced a three and out to set up the first score.

The Riders host St. Georges next Friday night and will play six of their final nine games at home.

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