CR pulls away from Polytech in 53-14 victory

Caesar Rodney’s Emmanuel Kennedy finds an opening in the first quarter against Polytech. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

WOODSIDE — Like any good offensive lineman, Joshua Wood was more worried about making a block on the play.

“I look over and I see the ball tumble by,” said the Caesar Rodney High senior.

The football had come loose when Riders’ halfback Scottie Flowers — after an 11-yard run — got hit just before he crossed the goal line.

The ball squirted free of the pile and seemed to just sit there in the end zone for a second or two. That’s where Wood came in.

“We do a bunch of fumble-recovery drills in practice so it just kind of kicked in naturally,” he explained. “I jump on the ball and I’ve got a touchdown. You could feel people running behind you. I was just hoping that I’d be the first one to get there.”

Wood’s unexpected fumble-recovery TD gave the Riders the lead for good against Polytech. But, by the time they were done, several more CR players had scored as the Riders pulled away to a 53-14 victory over the Panthers in their Henlopen North opener on Friday night.

Eight different players scored for CR (3-1 overall) as the Riders avenged a one-point loss to Polytech (0-1 North, 1-3).

Playing before a big crowd — it was the first game CR played in Kent County this season — the Riders led just 14-7 at halftime. But they outscored the Panthers, 39-7, in the second half to eventually get to a running clock in the closing two minutes.

Caesar Rodney’s Jordan Allen, left, celebrates his TD catch with Corey Handy in the first quarter against Polytech. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Back-to-back interceptions by safety Donovan Barnshaw gave CR good field position to start the third quarter and the Riders turned them both into touchdowns. CR finished with four interceptions in the second half altogether.

“We knew they were going to come out and throw the ball a lot on us,” said Barnshaw. “We just had to come out and play hard.

“The first one (interception) he threw the ball up, I went up and got it and just took off. The second one got batted up by Jackson Rall. I saw it in the air and just had to get it. It put us in great field position to score.”

Polytech quarterback Vincent Tascione completed 21-of-43 passes for 235 yards with a pair of touchdown throws to Donald Rawley and Trent Jaksch.

“He’s a really good quarterback,” said CR coach Dan Candeloro. “He threw some nice balls but had a couple tipped and we took advantage of them. Then it got into a spot where they had to throw the ball.

“They had a nice scheme. Those screens were killing us. It was 14-7 at halftime and we were in a game. But it just snowballed on them.”

Perhaps fittingly, CR sophomore Anthony Rivera capped off the victory when he returned an interception 60 yards for a touchdown with 1:43 remaining.

Offensively, Jordan Allen, James Love, Manny Kennedy, Christopher Evans, Flowers and Kendall Smith all scored TDs. Smith’s was the longest, coming on a 46-run in the fourth quarter.

Polytech’s Montrell Jones rushes against CR’s William Burke in the first quarter at Polytech . (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Candeloro was happy that a lot of CR’s younger players got the chance to get on the field.

“We saw some good things,” he said. “We were kind of excited. It’s good to see kids that come out to practice every day and work get some success.”

Of course, one of those players who got his chance on Friday, was Wood. He said the Riders hadn’t forgotten about losing to Polytech last season.

It was the Panthers’ first win over CR in football.

“Last year we just really weren’t playing up to par,” said Wood. “This year, I think we really handled what we needed to. We prepared a little bit differently, that’s for sure.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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