Thousands of fans came to Baynard Stadium for a football game Saturday night.
They watched a track meet instead.
Salesianum couldn’t stop Caesar Rodney’s passing game. Caesar Rodney couldn’t stop Salesianum’s running game and the occasional throw to tight end Brian O’Neill.
Up and down the field they went. When the running was finally finished, Salesianum emerged with a 41-35 overtime victory in a thrilling season opener for both teams.
The Sals (1-0), ranked third in Division I, won it on Daulton Gregory’s 1-yard plunge on the first possession of overtime. The Riders (0-1), ranked second, face another huge game at home against top-ranked Middletown on Friday. It can’t be any better than this one.
Sallies scored on its first drive, scooting 39 yards in four plays. Troy Reeder, the Sals’ 230-pound running back, capped it from 4 yards out.
CR came right back with a mix of runs and passes to cover 80 yards in 11 plays, finished by Cody Connell’s 1-yard run. Then the Riders forced a punt, and Alex Kemp completed passes of 44 and 33 yards before scoring on a 1-yard plunge for a 14-7 lead.
An injury added a final play to the first quarter, and O’Neill ran a streak route and hauled in a 42-yard pass from Matt Sgro to tie it at 14. After the kickoff, Kemp fired a 68-yard bomb to Kendall Wicks to push CR right back in front, 21-14.
The Sals recovered a fumble and churned 36 yards in seven running plays. Reeder went the final 3 yards to tie it at 21 with 4:30 left in the first half.
CR answered quickly, with a 25-yard run by Naquan Watkins setting up Kemp’s sprinting, 23-yard TD throw to Deshawn Schuler. The Riders went into halftime leading 28-21.
CR missed a 31-yard field-goal attempt on the first possession of the second half, and Sallies responded. A 26-yard run by Gregory set up Sgro’s 39-yard TD pass to Tyler Marroni to knot it again at 28 with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
But the Riders went bombs away again, with Kemp hitting back-to-back passes of 48 and 26 yards to set up a 3-yard scoring burst by Watkins. Going into the fourth, CR led 35-28.
A 61-yard kickoff return by Michael Sanzone set up the Sals at the CR 37, and they went the rest of the way in eight running plays. Evander Blue scored from the 1 to tie it at 35 with 7:49 left in the game.
Both teams missed field-goal chances, with CR wide left from 24 yards and Sallies just short from 43. So the game rolled into overtime. CR was stopped on its first possession, and Gregory plunged in from the 1 on fourth down to win it for the Sals.