Late TD lifts CR to second one-point win 30-29 over St. Georges

CR’s William Burke, left, and Julian Trammell force St. Geogre’s Jalen Smith to fumble in the first quarter at CR. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

CAMDEN — Caesar Rodney High’s football team has outscored its first two opponents by a grand total of two points.

And the Riders couldn’t be any happier about it.

For the second straight week, CR prevailed by a single point on a last-second play, this time stunning St. Georges, 30-29, on Friday night when Julian Trammell caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Jared Wagenhoffer with just 3.6 seconds left.

St. George’s Brian Benson rushes as CR’s Emmanuel Kennedy goes for the tackle in the first quarter at CR.

Joseph Delgado then booted the deciding PAT as the Riders avenged back-to-back losses to the Hawks (0-2) that came by a combined margin of 55 points.

At 2-0, CR has not only surpassed last year’s win total (1-9) but matched its victory totals from the two previous seasons when it went 2-8 twice.

CR’s Emmanuel Kennedy rushes against George’s Gregory Glessner in the first quarter at CR.

“The kids talk about it all the time, we’re not looking back,” said CR coach Dan Candeloro. “We’re moving forward. … It was a lot like last week.

“It feels good for them,” he said about his players. “We have faith in them. But to see it play out the way it has, we’re real happy for the kids.”

In a contest that featured four lead changes, St. Georges took a 29-23 advantage on Jalen Smith’s seven-yard scoring run with just 3:26 remaining.

But that was just enough times for the Riders to answer. CR marched 65 yards on 13 plays for the winning TD.

The scoring play couldn’t have been much more dramatic.

The Riders had the ball at the seven, with no timeouts and the clock running. They were penalized for illegal motion to put the ball back to the 12.

CR’s Julian Trammell rushes against George’s in the first quarter at CR.

With the clock restarted as soon as the ball was set, Wagenhoffer at first dropped the shotgun snap, picked it up, rolled to his left and drilled the TD pass to Trammell, who just managed to keep his feet inbounds.

“‘Pressure’ is definitely out of our vocabularly,” said Wagenhoffer, who threw three TD passes in the game. “It’s something we work on in practice — the two-minute drill. Everybody stayed focus. I’m proud of everybody.

“I dropped the ball, rolled out and saw Julian with one-one coverage. I knew he had him beat. I just let him make a play.”

“It was fourth down, we had to make a play,” said Trammell. “My quarterback threw a nice ball to me. … It was a pretty good feeling.”

Even the deciding extra point wasn’t without its complications.

First, CR had to run an 11th player onto the field at the last second. Delgado still made the kick but the officials whistled the play dead to call a penalty on St. Georges.

Finally, Delgado calmly kicked the PAT again. A minute later, after the Riders tackled the Hawks on the ensuing kickoff, CR’s players were celebrating a nail-biting victory.

Again.

CR’s Bailey DeAtley catches a pass against George’s Tyler Wellman in the second quarter at CR.

“We’ve been preaching since the offseason, you’ve got to have heart,” said Candeloro, whose team edged Appoquinimink, 21-20, in double overtime last week. “You’ve got to play the whole 48 minutes. And the game’s not over until they blow the whistle.

“You have that time in practice where you do those things,” he said about the two-minute drill. “They stepped up to the challenge.”

CR quickly fell behind 14-0 on Friday when the Hawks scored a pair of touchdowns in the first 10 minutes.

But Wagenhoffer (7-for-15, 105 yards) hit Kevin Robinson with a six-yard scoring pass in the second quarter to get CR back within 14-7 at halftime.

When senior Tyrone Suarez returned the second half’s opening kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown, the Riders had pulled even at 14-14.

After an eight-yard punt set up CR at the St. Georges’ 38, the Riders took their first lead at 21-14 when Wagenhoffer found Trammell a step behind a defender for a 33-yard scoring pass with 8:35 left in the third quarter.

The Hawks quickly tied the game at 21-21 on a 70-yard scoring drive. But CR grabbed back the lead on a safety when St. Georges had a snap go over its punter’s head and out of the end zone with 11:10 left in the game.

Finally, the Hawks marched 72 yards in 11 plays for the go-ahead touchdown that set up the last-second dramatics.

The Riders admit there were several points in the back-and-forth game where they could have given up. But they didn’t.

“We’re like a team this year,” said Trammell. “Everybody believes in each other. In practice we work hard, push each other to do well and come out of here with a win.”

“We’ve been working our butts off since sophomore year,” said Wagenhoffer. “We’ve been 2-8, 1-9. This year is totally different.

“It’s the heart. St. Georges is a great team. To rally back and catch a ‘W’ on them is a great feeling.”

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