Smyrna erupts to crush CR 50-14

Smyrna defensive lineman Elijah Statham breaks through to sack Caesar Rodney quarterback James Love for a loss in the second quarter of Friday night’s game. Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh

SMYRNA — In 12 minutes of game action, Smyrna High turned a one-possession game into a running clock.

The Eagles scored 28 unanswered points in the second half to pull away for a 50-14 victory over Caesar Rodney High in a Henlopen Conference Northern Division football contest on Friday night.

Senior running back Stephen Whaley paced the Eagles (2-0 Henlopen North, 2-2 overall) with four rushing touchdowns and 186 yards on 19 carries.

Smyrna defender Demetrius Buckner scoops up a fumble by CR quarterback James Love and scampers into the end zone for the Eagles’ first touchdown.

Sophomore quarterback Aidan Sanchez also threw for a pair of touchdowns. Makhi Jackson caught one for 45 yards while Emon Roberts had the other for 11 yards.

“It all starts with the line,” Sanchez said. “They give me protection, they give Stephen openings and they make everything easier. They give me the time to go through my progressions and make the right throw.”

Things weren’t going so smoothly for the Eagles early in the second half, though.

They botched a snap on the second play of the third quarter. Caesar Rodney (1-1 Henlopen North, 3-2 overall) was able to pounce on it to take over at the Smyrna 29-yard line.

The Riders reached the end zone five six plays later on a quarterback sneak by James Love. Kevin Robinson ran in the two-point conversion to cut a Smyrna lead to 22-14 with 8:49 left in the quarter.

Smyrna quarterback Aidan Sanchez fires a pass over CR defender Zion Rodgers for a key first down Friday night.

The Eagles answered with a touchdown from Whaley which turned out to be just the start of a big second half.

“I would like to say there was no panic but I could tell by the way both teams were so emotional we were kind of getting to that state,” said Smyrna coach Mike Judy. “That’s something we’ve got to work on but luckily we got everybody calmed down so we could execute. I think that’s when it really took off.”

The Smyrna defense allowed just one first down in the last 18 minutes of the game.

“They’ve continued to rise to the challenge of getting better,” Judy said of his defense. “They keep impressing me. I feel like the defensive line has established themselves as not just a young line, but they’re good.”

“I feel like everybody that has come in is stepping up,” said senior defensive lineman Demetrius Buckner. “All the new people are stepping up and fulfilling the job that we need. They’re all doing their part.”

The Smyrna defense and special teams units had a big night.

Roberts blocked a punt in the first half and the Eagles earned a safety when the Riders snapped a punt out of the back of the end zone.

Buckner scored his first career touchdown when he recovered a fumble forced by E.J. Statham. Buckner took it 45 yards to the end zone.
“I saw E.J. hit the quarterback and I just saw the ball,” Buckner said. “I just kept thinking, ‘I got to scoop and score. I got to scoop and score.’ It felt great.”

Robinson scored the other touchdown for the Riders on a five-yard rush.

Whaley had touchdown runs from three yards out, four yards and five yards before he delivered the biggest blow of the night for Smyrna at the end of the third quarter.

He raced 92 yards for his fourth score, capping off a 22-point quarter for the Eagles.

“When it started clicking, we had to regroup, talk about what we had to do and focus on our jobs,” Whaley said. “It’s what we practice for.”

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