Dover routs rival CR 54-22, hopes for D-I tournament bid

The Senators’ Javon Peace rushes against Caesar Rodney in the first quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

CAMDEN — With their state tournament lives on the line, Dover High’s football players knew all they could do was win the game in front of them.

So that’s what they did.

The Senators reeled off 27 first-quarter points and never looked back, cruising to a 54-22 victory over Caesar Rodney on Friday night in their regular-season ending rivalry game.

Dover, which won its fourth game in a row, got five touchdowns from senior Vonnie Peace plus four fumbles from the Riders as they beat CR for the fifth time in the last six years.

The Senators (5-2 North, 6-4 overall) needed to win to put themselves in line for an at-large berth in the DIAA Division I state tournament. The Senators are trying to make the tourney for the second straight season.

The DIAA brackets in both Division I and II won’t be officially determined until Sunday.

The Riders (3-4 North, 3-7 overall) ended the season on a three-game losing streak.

Dover’s defense gang-tackles Caesar Rodney’s Emmanuel Kennedy in the first quarter.

“That being our rival, we were already pumped,” said Dover senior receiver Gave Evans. “When we got on the field, we knew what we had to do. We had a good week of practice. We just executed.”

“That’s something we’ve been preaching all week — even before the game,” said Peace, who ran for 181 yards on 19 carries. “It’s all about the start and it’s all about the finish. We started good and we finished good.”

Already leading 34-8 at halftime, Dover started the third quarter with a 69-yard scoring drive. Peace kept his balance down the sidelines for a 25-yard scoring drive as he picked up his fourth TD of the game.

The touchdown left the Senators with a commanding 40-8 cushion.

After that, the two squads traded TDs with CR never seriously cutting into Dover’s lead.

The Senators were only 2-4 just a month ago. Coach Rudy Simonetti was proud of the way his players battled back to finish the regular season with a winning record.

Dover quarterback Elijah Allen throws against CR.

“Hats off to these kids,” said Simonetti. “They could have packed it in four or five weeks ago but we didn’t.

“For us to rattle off four straight wins against some quality opponents really says a lot about the character of these kids here and our coaching staff. I’m really proud of them.”

Three CR fumbles in the first quarter helped the Senators break the game open quickly.

When quarterback Elijah Allen found Evans with a 14-yard scoring pass on the last play of the first quarter, Dover owned a comfortable 27-0 advantage.

Defensive backs Tamir Caldwell and Kareem Kaba both had good returns after fumble recoveries to set up scoring drives of only 32 and 36 yards for the Senators. Kevin Streadwick’s fumble recovery at the CR 28 gave Dover good position on its last TD of the quarter.

Dover’s Javon Peace rushes as Caesar Rodney’s Elijah Green reaches to tackle him in the first quarter.

The Senators’ lead was 34-8 at halftime as Peace scored three first-half touchdowns. Fullback Qualeak Bumbrey also scored the first of his two TDs on a four-yard run.

The Riders’ lone first-half touchdown came on a 10-yard run from sophomore fullback Brock Conner that made it 27-8 in the second quarter. A 42-yard pass from QB Tremere Woodlin to Corey Handy got CR to the 10.

But the Senators came back with 45-yard completion from Allen to Evans. One play later, Peace scored on a 16-yard run.

The Riders did put together a 16-play, 62-yard march right before halftime. Dover’s defense, though, stopped CR on a fourth-and-goal from the five as the half ended.

Dover leads the all-time series 35-30-4. Originally started in 1935, the rivalry has been played every year since 1961.

The Senators’ 54 points were the second-most ever scored in the series. In 1975, CR won 56-12. But the 76 points scored on Friday were the most combined points in one game in the rivalry.

As for the state tournament, the Senators’ fate comes down to math and the DIAA’s point system. There’s still some games left to be played today that will effect the six-team Division I field.

“We controlled what we could control — and that’s winning games,” said Simonetti. “Whatever happens, happens. I want to get in for my seniors. They worked their tails off. It doesn’t matter the seeding, we just want to get in.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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