Middletown sent a message to the rest of Delaware’s Division I high school football teams Friday night.
The Cavaliers are just as good as ever.
Caesar Rodney received that message in person, as Middletown broke open a close game in the second half and sprinted away to a 41-6 road victory.
The Cavaliers (2-0), who have won the last two Division I state championships and are ranked first this season, only led the third-ranked Riders 7-6 at the half. But then they outscored CR 28-0 in the third quarter.
“At halftime, coach settled us down. He said it’s now a 0-0 game coming into the second half,” said Middletown quarterback Darius Wade, who completed 14 of 22 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns. “We came out with a different game plan. We saw what they gave us in the first half, and we took advantage of what they were giving us.”
The Riders (0-2) came out flying. Kendall Wicks returned the opening kickoff to the Cavaliers 40, Naquan Watkins ripped off a 17-yard run and Alex Kemp threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to tight end Seth Brosius. Three plays into the game, CR led 6-0.
It stayed that way until late in the first half, as the teams combined to go 0 for 4 on fourth-down conversions. Middletown finally scored on Chris Godwin’s 5-yard run to take a 7-6 lead 2:26 before halftime.
But the second half belonged to the Cavaliers. They took the kickoff and covered 60 yards in five plays, including Godwin’s 35-yard run. Wade punched it in from the 1 for a 14-6 lead.
Three plays later, Middletown’s Dennis Berger intercepted a pass at the CR 30. Wade scrambled for 21 yards, then threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Godwin to push the margin to 21-6 with 9:00 left in the third quarter.
“I was just doing a job and got a lucky break with the throw,” Berger said of the pick. “I just did my job. We were just in cover-3, and I just saw [the receiver] come out of the backfield and I picked him up.”
The Cavaliers made their own luck on their next possession, as Wade lofted a beautiful, 67-yard bomb across the field to Godwin. With 5:11 left in the third quarter, Middletown led 28-6.
“That was a halftime adjustment. We saw that from up top [in the coaches’ box],” Wade said. “The coaches were telling us that we had that look, so we thought that was a play we could run. I got it to Chris and we were able to make a big play and get some momentum.”
The onslaught continued, as James Reed broke free up the middle for a 69-yard touchdown run. Then Berger took a short pass from Wade, broke a tackle and sprinted 40 yards for a score.
“Dennis Berger is a playmaker,” Middletown coach Mark DelPercio said. “He’s just a football player. He’s not going to be flashy with his size or speed, although he’s a very fast kid. But anybody who watches Middletown football just loves the way No. 16 plays, including our staff.”
Berger caught seven passes for 94 yards, while Godwin snagged five for 107 yards and rushed five times for 69 more. Reed rushed for 79, and Wade added 60 on the ground.
But DelPercio said the key was the Cavaliers’ defense. Caesar Rodney’s offense played brilliantly in a 41-35 overtime loss to Salesianum in its season opener. But the Riders only managed 144 total yards on Friday.
“Defensively, the way we played the entire game, I could not have been happier with it,” DelPercio said. “We put ourselves in bad positions early because we did not get the job done offensively. But credit to CR. CR played great defensively at the beginning of the game.”