Senator defense shines in 55-0 shutout over Polytech

Dover’s Javon Peace scores as Polytech’s Donald Rawley, left, and Ronald Graham try to tackle him in the first quarter on Friday. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

WOODSIDE — Dover High’s defensive players were as happy as anyone with the Senators’ big win over Smyrna last week.

Still, they were disappointed in themselves for giving up 38 points to the Eagles.

So the Senators’ defenders took a lot of pride in posting a shutout in Dover’s 55-0 Henlopen North football victory over Polytech on Friday night.

While junior running back Vonnie Peace was putting up 172 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 14 carries, the defense was forcing four turnovers as Dover (3-1 North, 7-1 overall) took another step toward earning the program’s first DIAA Division I state tournament berth since 2013.

Polytech QB Vincent Tascione prepares to get hit by Dover’s Shamir Nelson.

It’s the first time since before 2008 that the Senators have registered two shutouts in the same season.

“We got a little too big-headed and let them come back in and put up points after halftime,” middle linebacker Derrick Madison said about the Smyrna game. “That’s unacceptable. We never want that to happen. We try to get better every week.”

“In practice we’ve been working on pursuing to the ball,” said junior linebacker David Exum. “We played fast and physical (on Friday). It’s always good to get a donut on the scoreboard.”

Peace put Dover ahead for good when he scored on a nine-yard run and then added the two-point conversion with 3:06 left in the first quarter.

Dover’s Cedrick Fawehinimi tackles Polytech’s Montrell Jones.

After the Senators forced Polytech (0-4 North, 1-7 overall) into a three-and-out, they quickly stretched their advantage when sophomore Wanya Wise picked up the ensuing punt on the bounce and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.

Just two plays later, Raeshawn Alexander’s fumble recovery gave Dover the ball right back at the Panthers’ 19. On the next play, Peace swept into the end zone from 19 yards out as the Senators’ lead ballooned to 22-0 as the first quarter ended.

Dover coach Rudy Simonetti liked the way his players stayed focused after their big win last week.

“You never take any opponent lightly,” he said. “You always want to come out and have a great week of practice. I thought we did a good job this week of keeping our focus as much as possible.

Dover’s Wanya Wise returns a punt return in the first quarter.

“Our motto around here is ‘all in.’ It’s just a mentality. You enjoy it if you get a win on Friday night. Then you just go back to work and you’ve got to get the next opponent.”

The Senators got interceptions from three different players: Cedrick Fawehinmi, Dazhmier Brooks and Kylen Thomas. Brooks’ interception stopped a Polytech drive at the Dover 28 and led to an eight-play, 90-yard drive the other way.

Quarterback Jordan Magee scored the TD on an 18-yard scramble to push the Senators’ advantage to 36-0 at halftime. Magee, who completed all six of his pass attempts for 66 yards, also threw a 30-yard scoring pass to Gabriel Evans.

“I thought we really pursued to the football well,” Simonetti said about his defense. “We finally got some picks back there with our DBs.

“Obviously that didn’t sit too well with them or me,” he said about the second half of the Smyrna game. “But I really thought they did a nice job tonight of redeeming that a little bit.”

With a running clock the entire second half, Dover added three more TDs: Peace on a 34-yarder, Wise from 18 yards out and Akil Garrett capping off the night with a 14-yard touchdown run on the final play of the game.

The Senators finish the regular season with home games against Cape Henlopen and Caesar Rodney. They say they’re trying to stay grounded and not look too far ahead.

“We take it one game at a time, every week,” said Exum.

“It’s a brotherhood, a family,” Madison said about the team. “We want to see each other succeed. We tune out all the noise. We’ve still got doubters in the state. We’ve still got to prove our point. We’ve still got more work to do.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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