Senators rally but fall to visiting Archmere 36-30 in opener

DOVER — Down its starting quarterback in the season opener, Dover High was forced to improvise.

The Senators almost mixed and matched their way to a comeback win.

Dover made it a one-score game in the final minutes but could not overcome a 20-point halftime deficit and fell to Archmere Academy 36-30 in the DFRC Kickoff Classic Friday night in Dover.

Dover was hampered by penalties all night and the Senators also turned the ball over twice offensively and dropped two would-be interceptions on defense in the first half.

“I think we must’ve had 100 yards of penalties and that can’t happen.” said Dover coach Rudy Simonetti. “We cannot shoot ourselves in the foot like that. You won’t win football games. Credit to Archmere though, they took advantage. But we showed that when we play mistake-free football that we’re pretty good. As a team, we have to get better and fix our mistakes.”

Dover sophomore Javon Peace keeps the ball and trys to maneuver around Archmere linebacker Darren DiRenzo. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Despite all those mistakes, the Senators still had a chance to get the ball back for a potential game-winning drive. But Archmere quarterback Joseph DiGregorio converted a fourth-down by a matter of inches with less than two minutes to go and Dover out of timeouts. DiGregorio paced the Auks with three passing touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.

Dover was missing junior quarterback Jordan Magee, who was out with an injury.

Dover lineman Naquan Peace (68) and teammate Tysean Nelson (7) taken down ArchmereÕs Cole Bauer for a loss in the 2nd quarter of game Friday.

The Senators had three different players take snaps Friday. Freshman Teyvion McCoy saw the majority of action at quarterback while fellow freshman Marquis Guy also threw some passes.

Sophomore Javon Peace was the final Senator to play some quarterback. Peace lined up all over the field, playing quarterback, running back and wide receiver on Friday. He scored all four touchdowns for the Senators.

“We put a lot of guys out there playing their first varsity game ever,” Simonetti said. “That’s a big jump. Once we settled in, you saw we’re O.K. I’m very happy with how our two freshmen quarterbacks handled themselves. It’s not an easy spot. They were playing in eighth grade a year ago and here they are now Friday night lights. I thought they did a nice job.”

Simonetti said there is hope Magee can return in the next couple of weeks. Magee was a Second Team All-Henlopen North quarterback last year and has attracted recruiting interest from Division I college programs. He already has an offer from Temple University.

Peace stepped into the role as Dover’s primary playmaker and recorded 231 rushing yards on 16 carries. He also caught Dover’s longest reception of the night for 19 yards.

Eden Davis of Dover looks to fight his way past Archmere’s Antwyne Scott-Coleman.

Peace brought the Senators within a touchdown when he found some daylight on the right side of the field before launching through some seams in the Archmere defense for a 65-yard score with 6:12 left in the game.

Peace’s performance stood out even more because he was noticeably cramping up for most of the second half. On his final touchdown run he limped the last 20 yards after his initial burst of speed.

“I just sucked it up and kept trying to go 20 more yards,” he said. “I would almost trip and had to pick myself up and get to the end zone.”

“He played out of his mind,” Simonetti said. “That last touchdown he kicked into a gear that I think he wasn’t even sure he had. He’s a player. I’m really proud of him and what he did.”

Peace also had rushing touchdowns of 55 yards, 30 yards and another from a yard out.

He thought he had scored another in the third quarter from 35 yards but the play was whistled back for a holding call. The Senators ended up turning the ball over on downs on that drive.

Dover outscored the Auks 22-8 in the second half before time ran out on the comeback attempt.

“I felt like we did better in the second half and we just had heart,” Peace said. “We were still in it. When it was 28-8 I still thought we could come back and win.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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