Sometimes in the world of sports you’re not always dealt the fate you deserve, no matter how well or with how much heart you compete. On Saturday night, the Caesar Rodney Riders fell in heartbreaking fashion 41-35 to Salesianum in an overtime shootout at Baynard Stadium in Wilmington, Del.
If there were any doubters about the caliber of this Caesar Rodney squad, they were quickly eliminated Saturday night against Salesianum, even in the losing effort. The Riders gave Sallies everything they could handle, even leading the play for a large portion of the game.
CR’s senior signal caller Alexander Kemp nearly led the Riders to an impressive early season statement win on Saturday night.
After a tightly contested first quarter; that ended with the teams tied at 14-14, the game began to open up.
Kemp connected with Kendall Wicks on a 68-yard touchdown pass to give the Riders a 21-14 lead, stunning the crowd at Baynard Stadium.
Just a few series’ later, the Riders turned the ball over in their own end leading to a game-tying 4-yard touchdown run from Salesianum’s Troy Reeder.
After a penalty on the ensuing kick-off, the Riders started their next drive with fantastic field position looking to take the lead heading into the break.
Just a few plays into the drive, Kemp found Deshawn Schuler in the end-zone to give the Riders a 28-21 lead to end the first half of play.
In the second half, the score would remain 28-21 in favor of the Riders until late in the third quarter. With just over 3:00 left in the quarter, Matt Sgro found Tyler Marroni on a 28-yard score to tie things up at 28-28.
Once again, Kemp and the Riders were able to respond, traveling nearly the entire field to do so.
Kemp helped keep the drive alive, connecting with Schuler once again, on what was the biggest play of the game at the time, on a 48-yard strike on third and forever from their own 10-yard line.
The balanced CR offense continued to move the ball methodically down the field when Kemp found Wicks for another huge gain, setting up a Naquan Watkins 3-yard score putting the Riders on top 35-28.
In the fourth quarter, Salesianum put together the tying drive capped off by an Evander Blue 1-yard touchdown run with just over 6:00 left in the ball-game.
Over the final minutes of the fourth, both CR and Salesianum had shots at game-winners.
The Riders drove the ball all the way to the Salesianum 2-yard line, unfortunately settling for a 24-yard field goal attempt which missed wide right.
With just over 3:00 to go, Salesianum would miss their chance of ending things in regulation, failing on a 43-yard field goal attempt, forcing overtime.
The Riders received the first possession in overtime, failing to connect on a score. Sallies’ Daulton Gregory scored from 1-yard out to clinch the victory.
CR showed why they’re considered one of handful of teams that expect to compete for the top spot in the first state this season. Kemp made some huge plays under center, while the run game was solid when needed. On defense, the Riders were able to keep their team in the game, making everything difficult for the offense against a very tough Salesianum running attack.
Most importantly on Saturday night, the Riders proved they were not intimidated by Salesianum, and nearly pulled off an improbable victory.
While it’s a heartbreaking loss for the Riders, they have little time to lick their wounds as they now must turn their attention to their week two opponent. This week, the Riders host defending champion Middletown in their home opener Friday night, kick-off scheduled for 7:30 p.m.