The Caesar Rodney Riders have been here before. This time last year, the Riders were fresh off a first round victory over Sussex Central drawing a semifinal match up against defending champion Middletown.
Now, a flip of the calendar later the Riders are once again celebrating a first round playoff victory. Saturday night, the Riders defeated the William Penn Colonials 49-33 to advance to the state semifinals.
While the Riders came in as heavy favorites Saturday night against the Colonials, they weren’t taking William Penn lightly and it showed early on.
The Riders opened up an early lead over William Penn as Domonique Dorsey scored on the ground from one-yard out and Seth Brosius caught an Alex Kemp pass from 5-yards out to give CR a 14-0 lead.
Up 14-7 in the second quarter, Kemp scored on a quarterback keeper to put the Riders up two scores. On their next possession Kemp connected from 26-yards out with Kendall Wicks to put CR up 28-7, but they weren’t done yet.
Dorsey capped off another Rider drive with another 1-yard score to put the Riders up big 35-7 with still a half of football to go.
With plenty of time to go, the Colonials weren’t about to give up. After their offense went three-and-out, the William Penn special teams unit came up with a big play recovering a Caesar Rodney muffed punt. The Colonials capitalized on great field position, when quarterback Dan Johnson hooked up with Deshawn Smith on a 25-yard fade route in the back of the end zone. The extra-point was blocked by Caesar Rodney, but their lead was cut to 35-13.
With under a minute to go in the half, the Riders again drove down the field deep into William Penn territory. Looking for some insurance heading into the half, a Kemp pass deflecting off a Rider receiver and into the hands of the Colonials at the one-yard line ending the half and a Rider threat.
William Penn continued the momentum gained at the end of the half to start the third quarter when the Reginald Carroll show began. First, Carroll broke loose for a 35-yard touchdown to pull the Colonials to within 15 of the Riders.
After getting the ball back, Carroll exploded for another long touchdown run, this time from 75-yards out cutting the CR lead to 35-27.
The Riders took back control of the game after a long drive was capped off by a Dean Johnson one-yard touchdown run pulling the Riders ahead 42-27 with just a quarter to go.
In the fourth, the Colonials would not go away as Carroll scored for a third time to once again bring William Penn to within a score of the Riders.
Needing a response late, the Riders got it. Cody Connell broke free scoring from 15-yards out to give the Riders a cushion they would not relinquish.
While it wasn’t easy, the Riders were able to survive a second half rally from the Colonials to hold on for the 49-33 win.
So, here the Riders are – a year later, fresh off a first round victory with defending champion Middletown standing between them and a shot at playing for the state title.