CR rallies for 16-14 win over Sussex Central

Caesar Rodney’s Brock Conner finds an opening against the Sussex Central defense in the first quarter at CR. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

CAMDEN — Four times on the most important drive on the game, the Caesar Rodney High football team found itself in a third-and-long situation.

Each time, the Riders found a way to move the chains.

A 15-play go-ahead drive was capped off on third-and-long with a 22-yard touchdown catch by senior Deontre Cale as the Riders rallied for a 16-14 victory over Sussex Central High on Friday night in Henlopen Conference Northern Division action. Caesar Rodney improved to 2-0 overall on the young season.

Caesar Rodney’s DeAndres Will-Prattis rushes for a touchdown against Sussex Central
in the first quarter at CR. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Senior Tremere Woodlin threw for 56 yards on the game-winning drive, including the touchdown to Cale. Each of Woodlin’s passes on the drive were completions on third-and-long.

The final one was a lob to Cale down the home sideline where Cale out-jumped a Sussex Central cornerback in the front corner of the end zone to give the Riders a 16-14 lead with 3:31 left in the contest.

“We work on that every day at practice,” Woodlin said. “Deontre is a great receiver and he’s really stepping up. Once I threw it, I knew he was going to go up and get it, no doubt.”

Sussex Central had its chances to take the lead on its final possession but three different first downs were wiped out by penalties — two for sideline infractions and one for holding.

Caesar Rodney’s Kevin Hudson and teammates celebrate his fumble recovery against Sussex Central in the first quarter at CR. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

Caesar Rodney’s Elijah Green broke up a pass on fourth-and-long to seal it for the Riders. Caesar Rodney held the Golden Knights (1-1) scoreless in the second half to overcome a 14-10 halftime deficit.

“We challenged them at halftime,” said CR coach Dan Candeloro of the Riders defense. “They were pounding the ball on us. We challenged them and they responded.”

No one scored in the second half until Caesar Rodney found itself on its own 23-yard line to start what would be the decisive scoring drive.

The drive was almost short-lived. Facing a potential three-and-out. Woodlin picked out senior wide receiver Corey Handy for a 24-yard pick up on third-and-17.

A few plays later Woodlin connected with senior Teron Wayman for a 10-yard gain on third-and-eight. Brock Conner then rushed for nine yards on another third-and-eight for yet another conversion on third-and-long.

Then came the lob from Woodlin to Cale to set off a wild celebration on the Rider sideline.

“Tremere is a play-maker,” Candeloro said. “He’s got guys around him he can trust. We just called the right plays at the right time. Our backs were against the wall, if we give them the ball, they’re going to win the game. So we had to keep that drive going.”

The catch was the first of the day for Cale, who also caught a touchdown on a similar play last week against Sussex Tech.

“I knew it was coming sooner or later,” Cale said. “I trust my QB and my coaches to make the right plays. So when the time came, I had to step up.”

DeAndres Willis-Prattis contributed a 24-yard rushing touchdown and Jensen Reed blasted home a 27-yard field goal to round out the scoring for the Riders in their home opener, played before a limited crowd on Parent Night due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Coming home for the first time in the middle of all this that’s going on, it was just a great atmosphere,” Candeloro said. “It was just great to be back on the field, great for the school and great for the whole community. It was just exciting. It was just great to be back in Camden playing.”

Phillip Stratton and Dion Stephens each scored one-yard rushes for Sussex Central who missed both two-point conversions it attempted. The Golden Knights also got on the board in the first quarter with a safety after a punt snap went out of the end zone.