Riders snap 3-year skid vs. arch-rival Dover 27-14, earn D-I tournament berth

Jullian Trammell of Caesar Rodney breaks into the Dover secondary past Dover’s Raeshawn Alexander (28) and Nadeem Boggerty for a big gain in the 2nd quarter. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

CAMDEN — For three long years, Caesar Rodney High’s football players walked away from this game with the weight of another losing season on their shoulders.

This time, they celebrated.

Ending a three-year losing streak against rival Dover, as well as a three-season absence from the state tournament, the Riders pulled away to a 27-14 victory over the Senators Thursday night in their annual season-ending grudge match.

And after winning just five games in those three years, all of those accomplishments were especially sweet for CR’s players when it was over.

“Words can’t describe it,” said senior quarterback Jared Wagenhoffer, who ran for a touchdown and threw for another. “It feels awesome.

Dover running back Javon Peace gets caught in the backfield for a loss by a herd of Riders in the first half.

“To be able to make the playoffs and beat a great team, we’re very excited. We’ve got to come out Monday ready to hit hard.”

“Ever since I’ve been here, CR has not been to the state tournament,” said senior running back Julian Trammell, who ran for a pair of TDs. “For my senior class to do it, it’s just all the better.

“For us to be able to change it around, it’s a great feeling. A great feeling.”

CR’s Jullian Trammell sprints around right end.

To be sure, the Senators (1-5 Henlopen north, 2-8 overall) made CR (4-2 North, 7-3 overall) earn its fifth straight victory.

Dover led 8-7 at halftime and still trailed only 20-14 late in the game.

But Wagenhoffer scored on a 17-yard run, turning to his left on a bootleg and racing down the sidelines before diving into the end zone. The touchdown came with just 1:19 remaining and sealed CR’s victory.

The Riders took the lead for good with a four-play, 62-yard scoring drive to start the third quarter. Trammell covered the final 46 yards, settling in behind his blockers before breaking free for a scoring run that gave CR a 13-8 advantage.

“Coach told me, on some of the plays, I’ve got to let my guard pull, slow down and make the inside cut,” Trammell explained. “All I saw was green most of the time.”

Trammell, who also scored CR’s first TD on a 20-yard run, finished with a game-high 217 yards on 19 carries.

Javon Peace of Dover gets a block and looks for yardage.

The Riders’ other touchdown came early in the fourth quarter. The 60-yard march was kept alive when punter Joseph Delgado threw a 16-yard pass to tight end Bailey DeAtley on a fourth-and-12.

Five plays later, Wagenhoffer rolled to his left and hit senior Forrest Booker with a nine-yard scoring pass. The touchdown, with 10:24 remaining, pushed CR’s lead to 20-8.

Dover, though, answered with a big fourth-down play of its own. On a fourth-and-14, QB Jordan Magee hit Eden Davis on a screen pass and the sophomore turned it into a 38-yard TD reception with 8:30 on the clock.

The Senators got the ball back at their own 20 with 3:27 remaining, still trailing just 20-14. But the Riders stopped them on downs at the 24 and Wagenhoffer’s touchdown run finished it off.

Dover sophomore running back Javon Peace also had a big game, running for 184 yards on 21 carries. He scored on a 50-yard burst in the first half with Magee’s two-point conversion run giving Dover its 8-7 lead.

With only three seniors starting on both offense and defense, coach Rudy Simonetti thinks these Senators have a great deal of potential.

“I’m real proud of all my kids,” said Simonetti. “The seniors especially battled tonight. It’s a rivalry game, it was tight down to the wire. We just came up a little short. We really played with a purpose.”

The Riders, on the other hand, get to play at least one more game. They’re expected to earn a Division I at-large berth and perhaps get a rematch with Henlopen North rival Sussex Central when the DIAA Division I quarterfinals are played next weekend.

CR just knocked off the Golden Knights, 24-21, last Friday. The brackets for both the Division I and II state tourneys will be determined on Sunday.

At least on Thursday night, though, third-year coach Dan Candeloro could appreciate what his players had accomplished.

“Those seniors have put in the hard work,” he said. “They’ve been down and out a little bit. They stayed true and came back and kept fighting in the off-season. They’ve earned it.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.