Smyrna pulls away for 54-37 win over CR

Smyrna’s William Knight rushes against CR at CR on Friday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

CAMDEN — In some ways, the Smyrna High football team is a victim of its own success.

After the way the Eagles dominated most of their opponents over the last few seasons, anything short of a blowout has people wondering what’s wrong.

So on Friday night, when Smyrna scored “only” 16 first-half points and led by just a touchdown against Caesar Rodney, it seemed like the Eagles were struggling.

But the second half was more what people have come to expect from the two-time Division I state champions as Smyrna finally got its offense going in a 54-37 Henlopen North victory over CR.

CR’s Kevin Robinson rushes against Smyrna at CR on Friday.

Stephen Whaley scored three touchdowns and three two-point conversions with Will Knight adding a pair of TDs and three two-pointers as the Eagles (2-0 North, 3-2 overall) won their third game in a row. It was also their 14th straight North victory.

“We made way too many mistakes,” said Smyrna coach Mike Judy. “It wasn’t the way we should have played. We gave the ball away and extended drives through stupid mistakes too many times.

“We played a lot of defense in the first half. That’s not going to be a way you get points on the board.”

“We turned it up and did what we had to do,” said Whaley, who had 97 yards on just two second-half carries. “Every team we play, it’s their Super Bowl. If we don’t win by 50 (people think) what’s wrong with the offense?”

When quarterback Jared Wagenhoffer scored on a one-yard sneak with 22 seconds left before halftime, the Riders (0-2 North, 2-3 overall) trailed just 16-9.

Smyrna’s QB Isaiah Wilson gets tackled by CR’s William Burke in the first quarter at CR on Friday.

On the second play of the third quarter, however, Whaley got loose for a 56-yard touchdown run. On Smyrna’s next possession, it was Knight who broke off a 31-yard scoring run as the Eagles’ lead quickly balooned to 32-9.

The two teams traded touchdowns after that as Smyrna kept CR at a safe distance. Knight ran for a game-high 170 yards on 19 carries.

“I think our kids took CR lightly,” said Judy. “And good for CR in punching us in the mouth. It’s what we needed.”

The Riders found some different ways to keep pace with the Eagles.

Julian Trammell intercepted a pass along the sidelines and returned it 35 yards for a TD while Tyrone Suarez later scored on a 90-yard kickoff return.
Trammell finished with a pair of TDs for CR.

For Smyrna, quarterback Isaiah Wilson completed 10-of-19 passes for 109 yards with a TD and three interceptions.

Judy, whose team hosts unbeaten Sussex Central for Homecoming next Friday, knows it has to play better. The Eagles had to rally for a 22-14 victory over the Knights a year ago.

CR’s Julian Trammell rushes against Smyrna’s Jared Mullen at CR on Friday.

Judy admits that trying to play in the shadow of the last two Smyrna teams’ accomplishments isn’t always easy.

“It definitely creates a weird vibe,” he said. “It’s something where you’ve got to stay grounded as a team.

“The Henlopen North is no joke. You’ve got to battle every week. If you think otherwise, you’re completely wrong.”

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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