Caesar Rodney only ran nine offensive plays in the last 17 minutes of the first half on Friday night.
But that’s OK when you score almost every time you touch the ball – on offense and defense. That’s what the Riders did, thrilling their huge homecoming crowd with a 55-10 victory over Polytech.
Caesar Rodney, ranked third in Division I, did almost everything right in improving to 3-2 overall, 2-0 in the Henlopen North. The eighth-ranked Panthers, off to their best start in years under new coach Kevin Smith, dropped to 4-1, 2-1.
The Riders started the game with their only long drive of the first half, marching 65 yards in 11 rushing plays. Naquan Watkins swept right for a 9-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead with 6:53 left in the first quarter.
From that point on, the CR scores came much more quickly. Dean Johnson intercepted a pass on Polytech’s third play from scrimmage and returned it 26 yards for a touchdown. The rush from the Riders’ defensive line forced an off-balance throw that the linebacker easily caught and took all the way.
“Man, that was fun,” Johnson said. “I just dropped back into my coverage, into my zone, and all of a sudden I saw the ball just floating. Time just slowed down, and I was just thinking, ‘Don’t drop it, D.J. Don’t drop it.'”
The Panthers ran four plays on their next drive before the Riders’ Kendall Wicks jumped the route on a short pass and returned the pick 28 yards for a 21-0 lead with 3:09 left in the opening period.
“I just saw the dude go down like it was a bubble screen,” Wicks said. “We’d been practicing it all week. I jumped it, and luckily it went my way.”
Arthur Miles snagged CR’s third interception early in the second quarter. On the next play, Watkins hit a seam on the right side and pulled away for a 65-yard touchdown run.
The Panthers showed some life with a 12-play drive that ended with Mark Bonnie’s 35-yard field goal. But the Riders went right back at it, with Deshawn Schuler catching a slant pass from Alex Kemp and sprinting 52 yards for a touchdown. CR foiled a fake punt by Polytech, and on the next play Kemp hit a wide-open Wicks for a 31-yard score to make it 42-3 with 1:28 still remaining in the first half.
With a running clock to begin the second half, the Riders substituted liberally but kept the offense in high gear.
Ron Harris broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, and Craig Logan scored from the 10 in the fourth quarter. The Panthers’ only touchdown came late in the game on a 5-yard run by Matt Williams.