Laurel – The Laurel Bulldogs got out to a 14-0 lead late in the first half and it looked like they would coast into halftime, but The Caesar Rodney Riders would not stay down as the two teams slugged it out like a heavyweight fight in the second half.
Laurel by land and Caesar Rodney by air was the battle plan Friday night as the two teams combined for 638 total yards in Laurel’s 24-19 victory.
“We preached it for five years now, 11 hats to the ball, next man up and we certainly saw that tonight,” Laurel head coach Joey Jones said.
Laurel took the opening kickoff and turned it into a 65 yard eight play scoring drive capped off by a five yard touchdown run by Patrick Belle. Bradley Lopez-Vasquez added the point after kick as the Bulldogs took an early 7-0 lead.
The two teams traded fumbles and defensive stops over the next 17 minutes before the Riders turned the ball over on downs at their own 48 yard line. Laurel capitalized on the possession when Koby Shockley scored on a three yard run. Lopez-Vasquez kick was good and the Bulldogs took a 14-0 lead with 2:49 to play in the first half.
Caesar Rodney had late life in the first half when Kasson Bey returned the ensuing kickoff 52 yards to the Laurel 23 yard line. Three plays later Julius Timmons rolled right and hooked up with Aiden Cane for an 11 yard touchdown pass. Brody Hinkle added the kick as the Riders cut the lead to 14-7 a halftime.
On the first play of the second half Laurel recovered an errant backwards pass at the 24 yard line. Belle scored his second touchdown of the game on a two yard run, Lopez-Vasquez’s kick was good as Laurel jumped out to a 21-7 lead less than two minutes into the third quarter.
Belle rushed for 130 yards on 24 carries for Laurel scoring twice.
“Patrick Belle is just a tough back a tough kid, he has been in the program waiting for his time and tonight was his time,” Jones said.
Caesar Rodney drove into Laurel territory before Xavier Limehouse blitzed on a fourth and four at the Laurel 43 for a sack and a loss of 15 yards.
“Every single day, every single game Xavier Limehouse is going to give you his best effort, best mentally. He is a leader out there, he is not loud and outspoken, but he controls the team when he is on the field,” Jones said.
The Bulldogs took the ball inside the Caesar Rodney one yard line, but the Riders defense turned back Laurel on three consecutive plays. Laurel settled for a 24 yard field goal by Lopez-Vasquez extending the Bulldogs lead to 24-7.
Caesar Rodney scored twice in the fourth quarter as Timmons threw a 16 yard touchdown pass to Aiden Cane and later a 17 yard touchdown pass to Maxwell Viddy, both plays were on fourth down as the Riders cut the Laurel lead to 24-19 with 5:39 to play in the game.
Timmons finished the game completing 15 of his 33 passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns.
“I told Coach Strickland after the gameafter watching there two games and all their scrimmages on film that is the best I have seen Timmons throw this year, he was hard to wrap up,hard to keep in the box with an arm like that he is going to be a good high school quarterback,” Jones said.
Laurel attempted a 35 yard field goal that went wide left giving Caesar Rodney one last chance with 59 seconds left in the game. The Riders managed a first down, but with five seconds left Timmons pass fell incomplete as time expired.
Laurel amassed 383 yards of total offense with 371 of them rushing. Caesar Rodney had a total of 245 yards, 162 coming through the air.
Caesar Rodney falls to 0-3 and will be idle next week before traveling to St. Mark’s on Sept. 29. Laurel ranked third in Class AA will host top ranked Caravel Academy next Friday night with kickoff at 7:00 PM.
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