CR enjoys true homecoming win, beats Cape 29-9 on new field

On the Riders’ first play from scrimmage offensive lineman Kevin Hudson led the way for teammate Kendall Smith to burst through all the way to the end zone to put CR on the board. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

CAMDEN — Caesar Rodney High School administrators and staff celebrated the opening of the new artificial playing field at Rider Stadium by cutting a long bright-yellow ribbon with dozens of scissors.

Not long after, buoyed by a strong rushing attack and a rock-solid defense, the Riders christened their new digs with a 29-9 triumph over Cape Henlopen in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division football game on Friday night.

Literally, and quite fitting, it was homecoming night at Caesar Rodney (4-2 overall, 2-1 North), which finally hosted its first football game of the year in its’ sixth game of the season.

William Burke of CR sacks Cape quarterback Samuel Jones for a big loss in the 2nd quarter.

“It’s been a long while since we’ve played a home game and the kids were excited and it’s all good,” Riders coach Dan Candeloro said. “We were glad to be here and we had great support.

“It was a good homecoming win and a great game. That first half was a battle.”

However, Caesar Rodney scored 22 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull away to the victory over the Vikings (1-5, 1-2).
“Our kids played hard, we just ran out of bodies,” Cape coach J.D. Maull said. “We started four freshman and I think six or seven sophomores, had some crucial injuries in the first half, and we just ran out of bodies.

“CR’s a good team and in the fourth quarter we just wore out. The effort was there for my kids. They just wore out.”

Rider powerhouse Kevin Robinson drags half the Viking defense for a big gain in the first quarter.

Senior running back Kevin Robinson rumbled for 146 yards on 14 carries, including TD runs of 20 and 63 yards to go with a 2-point conversion in the fourth quarter.

Senior Jordan Allen scrambled for 129 yards on 10 carries and sophomore Kendall Smith gained 121 yards on 11 attempts.

It was Smith who turned on the electricity at Rider Stadium on Friday night.

Smith returned the opening kickoff 32 yards. Then, on CR’s very first play from scrimmage on its new playing surface, Smith bursted through the middle of the line and cut left to outrace a pair of Cape pursuers on his way to a 58-yard touchdown run.

“I just saw the hole, it was wide open, and I just had to take it,” Smith said. “It was a great block by my left halfback Scottie Flowers. That’s something I was dreaming about.”

Cape went three-and-out on its first possession before the Riders embarked on a grueling 16-play drive that ended when Joseph Delgado missed a 32-yard field goal attempt near the end of the first quarter.

The Vikings dominated the second quarter. Hank D’Ambrogi connected on a 39-yard field goal to trim CR’s lead to 7-3 with eight minutes remaining until halftime.

Cape recovered a short pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff before Vikings’ quarterback Sam Jones found Jack Dennis in the right-corner of the end zone for a 33-yard TD on the very next play and took a 9-7 lead after Austin Carey missed the PAT kick.

From that point on, neither team managed to score until the Riders embarked on a quick 7-play, 96-yard scoring drive on its first series of the fourth quarter.

Smith had the key play of the drive when he broke loose for a 68-yard run on a third-and-six play from CR’s 8-yard line.

Allen finished the drive off with a 3-yard run in which he went untouched into the end zone before Robinson’s 2-point conversion run gave CR a 15-9 advantage.

Smith recovered a fumble to end Cape’s first possession of the fourth quarter and its’ own 20-yard line and the Riders scored two plays later when Robinson burst through the middle for a 20-yard TD.

Robinson put an exclamation point on the night with his 63-yard TD run with 1:02 to play.

It turned out to be a big homecoming party for CR, whose defense limited Cape to just 68 yards rushing and 156 yards passing.

“We just wanted to go out and play hard,” Riders junior Jeremiah Brown said. “We had to trust each other. Our motto is ‘Give 100 percent every play.’

“It’s a home game on our new field. It’s a new energy and a new vibe. We’ve got to go out there and be strong. I love our new turf. You can’t beat it.”

Coach Candeloro said he was proud of the way that his players battled throughout.

“The first 20 seconds we were on the board and then they kicked our butts for a while,” he said. “We had to weather the storm against a good team and we just had to fight.”

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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