DOVER — If winning football games were easy, everybody would be undefeated.
The trick is not panicking when things aren’t going right.
Dover High did that again on Thursday evening, spotting Cape Henlopen the first 13 points of the contest before reeling off 34 unanswered points to down the Vikings, 34-21.
Sophomore Jakwon Kilby ran for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 19 carries with junior Tyron Abrams also scoring twice as the Senators (3-1) made it three wins in a row on the rainy night. It was the first meeting between the two Henlopen North rivals as members of Class 3A, District II.
“We’ve faced adversity every game this year so far,” said Dover senior linebacker Nathan Bacon. “Every game. We just knew we had to stay together.”
“It’s something we’ve been talking with the team,” said Senators coach Chip Knapp. “It’s a long game and there’s going to be adversity. Football is all about handling adversity. The kids have bought into that idea.
“We’ve seen that play out in a couple games here.”
Dover still trailed the Vikings (0-4) by a 13-12 margin midway through the third quarter. But a fumble recovery by sophomore Jaylen Powell set up the Senators at the Cape Henlopen 46.
Six plays later, Abrams went seven yards up the middle for a TD that put Dover ahead for good. When Kilby added the two-point conversion, the Senators owned a 20-13 advantage with 2:37 left in the third quarter.
Two more scoring runs, a 23-yarder from Kilby and a one-yarder from quarterback Jordan Moran, put Dover ahead 34-13 with 9:27 remaining in the contest.
After the slow start, Dover ran the ball well, with Kilby and Abrams (five carries-44 yards) leading the way. The Senators got some big blocks from tight end Elijah Sessoms.
“We worked on a couple things, we ran them in the game and they were working,” said Knapp. “Jakwon was making plays. He’s a hard runner and, if you’re not sound on defense, he’s going to make you pay.”
“We just kept the team together,” said Kilby. “We know our defense is strong. We just kept pushing.”
The Vikings, who have led in the third quarter of each of their last three games, struggled after gaining a total of 100 yards on their first two drives.
Cape Henlopen’s next six possessions gained just 67 yards and ended in a blocked punt, four lost fumbles in a row and then an interception after a high punt snap.
One of the fumble recoveries was a nice play by Bacon. The blitzing linebacker chased down Viking quarterback Hank D’Ambrogi from behind, stripped the ball and recovered it in the same motion.
Bacon then kept running, returning the ball 29 yards to set up Dover’s fourth-quarter touchdown.
“I just wanted the sack honestly,” said Bacon. “The ball fell in my hands. That wasn’t even planned. I just got the ball and started running. I was shocked.”
The Senators also got a big special-teams play in the second quarter when Brandyn Eloi blocked and recovered a Vikings’ punt at the Cape Henlopen 10. That set up a one-yard scoring run by Kilby.
The Vikings opened the contest by marching 67 yards on 11 plays and eating up 6:20 of the clock. Thomas Messick took a pitch and scored on an eight-yard run.
The Vikings kept the drive going when Chancler Johnson caught a pass, broke some tackles and turned it into a 23-yard gain on a third-and-16. D’Ambrogi also found Daniel Saez wide open for a 26-yard completion on a fourth-and-six.
Cape Henlopen scored on its second drive, too, with Johnson going 12 yards up the middle on a third-and-goal. The Senators blocked the PAT, though, to keep the Vikings’ lead at 13-0.
At that point Cape Henlopen had run 16 plays to just three for Dover.
D’Ambrogi scored on a two-yard run with 1:16 remaining after scampering 63 yards to set up the TD.
The Senators don’t play again until next Saturday when they go to rival Caesar Rodney for an 11 a.m. contest.
Knapp said it’s been fun watching Dover string together some victories.
“Each win, they’ve been tough in their own right,” he said. “But it’s nice to win three in a row, you can’t beat that.”