For Caesar Rodney, it looked as if the Riders were about to squander a golden opportunity for two consecutive weeks.
Dover drove all the way to the CR 22, down three with just more than a minute to play. Ian Gory chopped up the Rider defense through the air all drive, reading CR's zone coverage as if it were a children's book.
Three incomplete passes and a stuffed screen later, it was CR's defense hanging on to preserve the Riders' 24-21 Henlopen North-clinching victory Friday at Dover High Stadium. The division title, something they could've won last week against Cape Henlopen, means an automatic berth in the playoffs.
"It hurts," Dover coach Carlton Brown said. "It's part of the game. We just didn't finish."
With the win, CR finishes 7-3 on the season with a 5-1 record in division play, good enough to claim the title thanks to tiebreakers. Dover tumbled to a 4-5 finish in 2012 with the loss.
The Riders racked up more than 200 yards on the ground - Devon Horton had 114 by himself - en route to a punishing rushing performance.
But it was Dover pushing the action in the second half, thanks to some timely defense.
After Eric Kobus' 23-yard field goal to push the CR lead to 24-14, Dlijah Banks took back the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a score to close the gap to three points.
CR rumbled downfield on the next possession but fumbled on first and goal from the 6-yard line to give Dover its final shot.
"That's what you expect from a Dover-CR game," Brown said.
CR opened the scoring early on a 70-yard screen pass from Alexander Kemp to Horton just minutes after the opening kick. Kobus' kick made it 7-0.
Dover answered quickly. Gory found a wide-open Tavarus Sample streaking down the middle of the field, hitting him in stride for a 47-yard score. Nicholas Spadafino's extra point knotted the score at seven.
After that, it was all CR.
Horton took a handoff on the first play on the ensuing drive 60 yards down to the Senators' eight to quiet the home crowd, and Kemp hit Kendall Wicks on a 3-yard slant three plays later to take a 14-7 lead.
The Riders threatened twice more in the half, only to be stopped in the red zone both times on fourth down. Momentum for Dover, however, was short-lived.
With just 18 seconds left in the half, Riders defensive back Adrian Trammell nabbed a tipped pass and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown, giving CR a comfortable 21-7 halftime lead.