The Caesar Rodney Riders are on their way to the DIAA Football State Tournament semifinals after defeating Henlopen North rival Sussex Central, 28-6, on Saturday night.
The Riders used a well-rounded running attack, and converted on Central mistakes to cruise to the win. Devon Horton, Adrian Trammell and Shaquille Stratton, who found the end zone twice, scored for the Riders.
After a Riders 5-play opening series was thwarted by the Sussex Central defense, they were forced to punt. The punt was muffed by Central after Seth Brosius delivered a hit, separating the returner from the ball. The muffed punt was recovered by Laulewasika Bendolph on the Central 7-yard line putting the Riders in terrific shape just minutes into the game.
Two plays later, Riders running back Devon Horton would turn the corner running 8-yards for the opening score, putting CR up 7-0 just two and half minutes into the game.
After forcing a Golden Knights punt on their next possession, the Riders would go on a 9-play 76-yard drive to go up two scores.
The drive saw a steady dose of Trammell, Horton and full-back Robert Holmes. After a 12-yard run from Horton put the ball on the Central 30 yard line, Trammell took an Alex Kemp handoff 30 yards for the score.
Now, with roughly 3 minutes left in the first stanza, the Riders were up 14-0.
The Golden Knights would respond on their next possession, putting together a 13-play drive to finally get on the board.
Running back Shawn Savage and Keith Jones helped drive the Golden Knights down to the CR 13 yard-line before the drive stalled. Kicker Alberto Sosa-Contreras would kick a 30-yard field goal to make the score 14-3 with 9 minutes left in the first half.
Once again, the Riders would respond with another long drive of their own.
After Horton and Stratton helped get the Riders near midfield, QB Alex Kemp would find wide-out Kendall Wicks for a 41-yard strike putting the Riders well into Central territory.
Three plays later, the Riders would go for it on 4th down, needing 7 yards to convert a first down. Kemp once again found Wicks for a 9 yard gain. That set up a Stratton 2-yard touchdown run to put the Riders up 21-3 as the second half winded down.
The next Golden Knights possession saw QB Jacob Miller fumble the football which was recovered by defensive back Aaron Briggs. Briggs recovered the fumble near the Central 30 yard line, however, a Riders unsportsmanlike penalty after the fumble cost them significant yardage.
Instead of capitalizing on the turnover as they had done all night, this time it was the Riders who would turn the ball over.
Page 2 of 2 - Devon Horton coughed up the ball near midfield with only 16-seconds to go in the half.
Miller would find Damani Jones for a big gain, taking the ball down to the Riders 32-yard line with just 4.4 seconds to go. Sosa-Contreras would be called upon once again, and he delivered as time ran down on the half. CR led, 21-6 at the break.
Sussex Central would start off the half with the ball looking to get a score to put them right back into the game. However, miscues would rear their ugly head once again for the Golden Knights.
After what would have been a three-and-out for the Central offense, they ran a fake punt at their own 29-yard line. The fake was snuffed out by Dominique Dorsey and Morenzo Palmer who took down the Central ball carrier to force the turnover on down.
With great field position once again, the Riders would capitalize.
Just a play later Shaquille Stratton would bust through for his second score of the game, putting the Riders up 28-6.
The Central offense couldn't muster any momentum the rest of the way as the Riders defense dug deep keeping them off the scoreboard in the second half.
For the Golden Knights it's the end of a successful season where they came up just short.
For the Riders, they'll move onto the semifinals of the DIAA Football State Tournament where they'll face #1 Middletown.
Salesianum and St. Mark's will battle next week as well, with the winners to face off in the state championship in two weeks.