The Caesar Rodney Riders were able to outlast the Smyrna Eagles, 41-34 on Friday night in a high-tempo offensive shootout.
The two Henlopen North squads traded scores the entire game. CR came into Friday night's game riding high at 4-2. While Smyrna entered at 3-3, desperately needing a big win over a divisional foe.
The Riders would put the first points of the night on the board, scoring on their first play from scrimmage. Running back Adrian Trammell rushed up the middle for a 69-yard touchdown to give the Riders an early 7-0 lead.
On the Eagles first possession of the game, they would respond. Smyrna would put together a long drive, which was kept alive by a fake punt. Eddie Kaiser would find the end zone for the Eagles on a 22-yard run tying the score 7-7 after each team had touched the ball only once.
Keeping the theme of the night alive, the Riders would respond to the Eagles score. After a long pass from QB Alexander Kemp to wide-out Kendall Wicks, the Riders were set up inside the red-zone. Shaquille Stratton would pound home a 3-yard run to give the Riders the lead again. After a failed extra-point attempt, the Riders led 13-7.
Kaiser would strike once again for the Eagles, this time an 11-yard run to pay dirt. A failed PAT attempt kept the score tied at 13-13.
The Eagles would take a brief lead in the first half when Jordan Kiger found TeQuan Boyer for a 15-yard touchdown.
CR running back Devon Horton would capitalize another Riders offensive drive with a 1-yard score on the goal-line. The two teams entered the half tied at 20-20.
The second half would bring more of the same, as the two teams matched each other score-for-score.
The Riders would strike first, as Rob Holmes scored from 3-yard out to put the Riders on top.
Once again, however, the Eagles had an answer. This time it came from air. Kiger found Mike Vavala for 26-yard score, tying the game one more time.
Now it was the Riders turn to answer (noticing a theme?). Naquan Watkins found running room on the edge, scoring from 7-yards out to continue the seesaw game.
Boyer would tally his second score of the game from 10 yards out to again pull the Eagles back even with the Riders.
Late in the fourth quarter Stratton would claim his second touchdown for the Riders, this time from 11 yards out to put the Riders ahead for good.
The Eagles would rally for yet another drive, but it would come up short but not without some controversy. The Eagles appeared to have completed a pass near the Rider goal-line, but after much discussion the officials ruled the pass incomplete and the drive stalled.
The win for Caesar Rodney puts them at 5-2, and in great position within the Henlopen Conference.
For Smyrna, it's a tough close loss that puts them at 3-4 for the season. On the bright side, this was clearly the best game the Eagles have played this season. Going toe-to-toe with the Riders Friday night will hopefully help them finish the season strong.
The Riders will travel to Milford next week for a date with the Bucs who fell to Dover Friday night, 42-10.
The Eagles will travel to Sussex Central to take on the now 5-2 Golden Knights who defeated the Cape Henlopen Vikings 28-7.