It was, simply, one of the craziest high school football games ever played in Delaware.
Hodgson and Caesar Rodney went at it for what seemed like all night on Friday. More than three hours after it started, the Riders left their home fans celebrating wildly with a 41-34 victory.
The teams combined for 11 touchdowns and 877 total yards. There were seven lead changes and three ties. The officiating crew was heavily involved, too, throwing 26 penalty flags.
It was a much-needed first win for Caesar Rodney (1-2), which is ranked fourth in Division I but opened the season with losses to No. 2 Salesianum and No. 1 Middletown. Hodgson, which is ranked third in Division II, fell to 1-2 with losses to CR and Division I top-ranked Caravel.
The winning points came with 6:36 left. The Riders’ Alex Kemp uncorked a 55-yard bomb to Deshawn Schuler, and Jordan Downes scored from 7 yards out on the next play to give CR a 41-34 lead.
But it was far from over. Hodgson’s Ruben Saunders returned the ensuing kickoff 45 yards, and the Silver Eagles rolled right into scoring position. But the Riders’ Rasheed Teasley intercepted a pass at the CR 1 with 2:50 to go. Then Downes broke a 55-yard run to get the Riders away from their own goal line, and they ran out the clock.
The first half had a little bit of everything, with plenty of big plays on both sides and 17 penalties.
Hodgson’s Justin Hardy took a short pass from Ray Jones and broke three tackles on the way to a 26-yard touchdown. CR answered with Dean Johnson’s 33-yard TD burst up the middle and a 41-yard bomb from Kemp to Kendall Wicks to take a 13-7 lead after a quarter.
Saunders returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards, and caught a 14-yard TD pass from Jones five plays later. Daniel Diggs’ two-point run put Hodgson up 15-13 with 11:21 left in the second quarter.
Teasley intercepted a pass in the end zone with 2:11 left in the first half. Then the Riders scooted 80 yards – aided by 45 yards in penalties against Hodgson. Wicks caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Kemp to push CR back ahead 20-15.
It was more of the same in the second half. Hodgson pushed ahead 27-20 on a 5-yard run by Diggs and a 1-yard plunge by Jones. The Riders tied it on Kemp’s 45-yard pass to Dominique Dorsey at the end of the third.
Then Kemp scored on a 3-yard run, and Jones answered with a 15-yard scoring run for Hodgson. CR came back for the winning points, and Teasley’s third interception of the night sealed it.
Jones was brilliant for Hodgson, completing 15 of 27 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns and rushing 28 times for 146 yards and two more scores. But the Riders intercepted him five times.