Friday night's football game between the Hanover High Nighthawks and the Dover Eagles was more than the season opener for both teams.
With only one win between them last season, both were looking to turn the page and start a new era in the football history of the schools.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, they will have to try for that new start next week as the Eagles pounded them 49-14 at Sheppard and Myers Athletic Field.
"We have been talking about this game pretty much all winter and summer," Dover coach Bill Miller said. "Our seniors got rid of two years of frustration. We ask the kids to give us a physical and aggressive game and they pretty much did that.
The Eagles scored the first three times they had the ball.
After forcing the Hawks to punt , the Eagles drove 57 yards on five plays to go up 7-0 with 7:26 remaining in the first quarter. All of the yardage came on the ground and all of it came on the legs of junior running back Tanner Link. The touchdown came on a 20-yard run by Link.
Chris Hoover added his first of seven consecutive extra point kicks.
Hanover lost four yards on their next possession and, after a 30-yard punt, the Eagles were back in business at Hanover's 48-yard line.
With Link chewing up hugh yardage, the Eagles needed only four plays to make it 14-0. Link again had all 48 yards on the ground. His 22-yard run with 3:09 remaining in the first quarter ended the drive.
The Hawks were able to pick up their initial first down on their next drive, but gave the Eagles good field position when they fumbled at their own 37-yard line.
On Dover's first play, quarterback Dan Mikos found tight end Josh Firestone behind the Hanover secondary. Firestone caught the ball in stride and looked like he would score when he fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line. Dover's Sean Finley was in the right spot and covered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. After Hoover's PAT, the Eagles were soaring 21-0.
Dover's size advantage began to take effect in the second period as it scored twice on drive of 47 and 45 yards. Both drives took a total of only five plays.
With the mercy rule in effect for the second half, Dover didn't touch the ball on offense for the first 13 minutes of the half. That didn't stop the Eagles from scoring 14 straight points to increase their lead to 49-0 with 6:30 left in the third period.
Senior running back Kellee Rogers gave the Eagles an instant boost to start the second half when he returned the kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. He broke free at the 50-yard line and then outran the Hawks to the end zone.
Hanover tried to get something started with its ground game and was able to grind out a first down at the 32-yard line. The offense, however, was stuffed for three consecutive losses and had to punt. Dover's Tyrese Williams blocked the Hanover punt and picked the ball up at the 2-yard line. He easily stepped into the end zone for a touchdown.
The Hawks were able to put a scoring drive together that took most of the third period and two minutes of the fourth period. Moving 91 yards in 10 plays, the Hawks scored on a 4-yard run by Matt Felton.
With Dover playing its jayvees, the Hawks got the ball back one more time and were able to drive 23 yards in seven plays to score with 13 seconds remaining in the game on Felton's 1-yard run. Jack Goodfellow added the two-point conversion on a run to close out the scoring.
"We showed a lot of heart in the second half," Hanover coach Jason Potts said. "My kids never quit and we played a team that completely physically outmatched us. We did the best that we could.
"We picked up some injuries at the start and that didn't help. We just circled the wagons and fought the fight."
Dover 21 14 14 0 -- 49
Hanover 0 0 0 14 -- 14
Do -- Tanner Link 20 run (Chris Hoover kick), 7:26
Do -- Link 22 run (Hoover kick), 3:09.
Do -- Sean Finley fumble recovery in end zone (Hoover kick), 1:56
Do -- Kellee Rogers 6 run (Hoover kick), 5:02
Do -- Josh Firestone 45 pass from Dan Mikos (Hoover kick), 2:42
Do -- Rogers 82 kickoff return (Hoover kick), 11:44
Do -- Williams 2 blocked punt return (Hoover kick), 6:30
Han -- Matt Felton 4 run (kick failed), 5:13
Han -- Felton 1 run (Jake Goodfellow run), 0:13
-- Do -- Han
First downs -- 12 -- 12
Rushes-yards -- 17-167 -- 50-104
Passing -- 2-4-0 -- 4-8-2
Passing yards -- 90 -- 71
Total yards -- 257 -- 175
Punts -- 1-33.0 -- 5-26.4
Fumbles-lost -- 2-1 -- 2-1
Penalties-yards -- 6-55 -- 5-35
Rushing -- Dover, Link 6-90, Rogers 3-23, Jared Shipley 3-19, Curtis Harman 1-15, Kiem LeGrant 2-10, Avery Preston 2-4, Brad Geiselman 2-4, Shane Adcock 2-2; Hanover, Matt Felton 16-44, Billy Hill 13-36, Steve Shaffer 10-28, Peyton Caler 2-6, Jake Goodfellow 3-1, Colton Dils 1-0, Wes Reichart 1-(3), Spencer Durika 4-(-8).
Passing -- Dover, Mikos 2-4-0-90; Hanover, Shaffer 4-8-2-71.
Receiving -- Dover, Firestone 2-90; Hanover, Ian Bosserman 1-39, Felton 1-11, Durika 1-11, Goodfellow 1-10.