Riders suffer first loss 19-14 to William Penn

CR’s Julian Trammell rushes against William Penn at CR on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

CAMDEN — For two weeks in a row, Caesar Rodney High’s football players were reminded just how much fun it is to win again.

But, on Friday night, the Riders got a crushing refresher on just how much it hurts to lose.

CR couldn’t hold a seven-point, second-half lead as William Penn scored the final two touchdowns to rally for a 19-14 victory in a nonconference matchup.

What made their first loss of the season sting even more for the Riders (2-1) is that they gave the Colonials (1-2) a big helping hand in all three of their TDs.

CR’s quarterback Jared Wagenhoffer gets off a pass against William Penn at CR on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

William Penn returned a fumble for a touchdown in the first half before a failed fake punt and then a fumbled kickoff set up up the Colonials’ two second-half scores.

“I thought we fought hard,” said CR coach Dan Candeloro, who team started the season with back-to-back one-point wins. “There’s a couple plays we’d like to have back. There’s a couple plays that might be called differently.

“But they’re a great opponent from upstate. They’re tough kids. I told them, it’s going to be a 12-round heavyweight fight. They’ve got to slug it out. We’ve been blessed in the last two weeks being able to overcome those things (mistakes). … Those things will come back to haunt you later in the game.”

CR, though, did have a chance to pull out the victory when it got a break of its own late in the contest.

CR’s quarterback Jared Wagenhoffer on a QB keeper against William Penn at CR on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Trailing 19-14, William Penn — which always punts the ball close to the line of scrimmage — had a kick partially blocked by one of its own players. The short punt set up the Riders at the Colonials’ 40 with eight minutes remaining.

CR converted on a fourth-and-four to pick up a first down at the William Penn 26. The Riders then faced a third-and-one at the 17.

But William Penn’s defense hit CR for a three-yard loss on third down before stopping the Riders on fourth a couple yards short of the first down with 4:04 remaining.

The Colonials then picked up a pair of first downs before using up all but the final 1.4 seconds of the game.

“We were waiting for another miracle,” Candeloro said with a smile. “We were waiting for something to go our way. When the (William Penn) punter kicks it into the fullback, we’re like, ‘Oh man, here we go.’ That’s the break we needed. But they had a good stop.”

The Riders went up 14-7 early in the third quarter when Julian Trammell (11 carries-54 yards) scored his second touchdown of the night on a 38-yard run. The senior swept around left end, beat a defender to the sideline and sprinted the rest of the way for the score.

The TD was set up on a nice fumble recovery by CR linebacker Jackson Rall at the Colonials’ 38. Rall pushed a William Penn player out of the way to get to the ball before scooping it under him with one hand.

The Riders were still ahead 14-7 when a fake punt on a fourth-and-11 — which only gained nine yards — set up William Penn at the CR 34.

On the next play, Colonial quarterback Jahsan Gildersleeve hit Terin Cochran with a 30-yard pass after the ball bounced up into the air and fell to the receiver, who was laying on the ground.

But CR blocked a low PAT kick to hang onto a 14-13 advantage.

However, William Penn’s high, short kick on the ensuing kickoff ricocheted off a CR player and the Colonials recovered at the Riders’ 35.

After a 19-yard run by Isaiah Gaynor took William Penn to the one, Gildersleeve scored the eventual game-winning TD on a sneak on the first play of the fourth quarter. Gaynor scored the Colonials’ first two touchdowns on a 25-yard fumble recovery and a four-yard run.

“I think they’d like to start that one over,” Candeloro said about his players. “That was a tough loss — too many mistakes. We’ve got to get back Monday and start turning towards our first conference opponent (Polytech).”

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