Riders top Polytech 42-16 for first North victory

WOODSIDE — Mike Clavier wasn’t sure where the football was.

All the Caesar Rodney High fullback knew was that it wasn’t in his hands anymore.

“Then I saw it in the back of the end zone and I took off right for it,” said Clavier.

Clavier pounced on his own fumble, recovering it for a first-quarter touchdown in the Riders’ game against Polytech on Friday night.

It was just one of those kind of nights for CR, where the ball seemed to finally bounce its way in a 42-16 Henlopen Conference Northern Division victory over the Panthers.

The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Riders (1-4 North, 2-7 overall) while also ending a seven-game skid against North teams.

Clavier led the way with 181 yards and four touchdowns on 10 carries.

“We haven’t this feeling in forever,” said the senior co-captain. “It’s just a lot of fun — the busride home, hanging out after. The morale of the team just goes way up.”

“We really needed that, especially going into Dover next week,” said first-year coach Dan Candeloro. “It gives us a little boost for confidence. We had a great week of practice. The kids were positive.”

Against Polytech (0-5 North, 0-9 overall), the Riders never trailed after Clavier recovered his fumble for the game’s first touchdown.

CR’s 42-point total was just two shy of the season-high 44 points it scored in its first win, a 44-22 victory over Glen Mills, Pa. on Sept. 25. The Riders had scored 14 points or less in six of their first eight games.

But on Friday they got a few big scoring plays.

Junior running back Nhaighere Wills scored CR’s second TD when he swept around left end, got to the sidelines and sprinted 82 yards for a TD. Wills finished with 92 yards on three carries.

Clavier also got the rare opportunity for a long scoring run on the second play of the third quarter. He broke a few tackles up the middle and then just kept going, running 75 yards for a touchdown.

“I felt three guys on my back,” said Clavier. “One guy hit me and fell off, the second guy punched the ball and fell off. … “

“Mike’s just a tough runner,” said Candeloro. “He’s just hard to bring down. He works hard every day. He comes with his hard hat on and goes to work.”

CR quarterback Jared Wagenhoffer also threw the ball well in his return to Polytech, where he played on the varsity as a freshman last season. He completed 7-of-12 passes for 128 yards with a TD.

The touchdown pass came in the third quarter when he hit Jordan Walters in stride down the sidelines for a 48-yard scoring play.

The Riders’ lead eventually reached 42-3 to go to a running clock at the end of the third quarter. But Candeloro wasn’t interesting in running up the score as both teams used most of their available players.

“People have been nice to us,” said Candeloro. “Turnaround is fair play.”

Senior Corey Collins (17 carries-85 yards) scored Polytech’s first touchdown on a 16-yard run. The Panthers then used a trick play, with kicker Mark Bonnie throwing a 17-yard TD pass to quarterback Jason Rigby on a fake field goal.

The highlight for Polytech, though, may have been Bonnie’s booming 50-yard field goal in the first quarter. An All-State kicker last season, Bonnie has had many opportunities to kick this fall.

“That was awesome,” said Candeloro. “I want to see that one on film. That was great. It’s neat to see him do good things. You don’t see a 50-yarder every day in high school.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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