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Indians bounce back from early miscues

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POSTED September 12, 2009 2:29 a.m.

LINDEN — The Indians took a big step forward in their season opener.

At Lion Stadium, Ripon High coach Chris Johnson, witnessed his young squad overcome first-half mistakes and penalties to edge out Linden in the non-league affair, 25-21.

“With only seven players returning on varsity, I thought we really grew up (as a team) tonight,” he said.

Behind 21-13 at halftime, the Indians recovered a punt fumble following their first offensive sequence. The turnover led to Ryan Durrer’s 14-yard scoring toss to Mark Bigelow.

The Lions, who had just two penalties in the first half, were flagged seven times in the second half, with most of those infractions coming at inopportune times.

Linden, for example, helped out the Indians in the third quarter by being called on both illegal participation and personal foul. The double penalty coupled with a face-mask call on the same drive led to Nick Curtice’s go-ahead score on a 2-yard plunge.

The Indians showed their mettle on defense after giving up a big play in the second half, with Linden’s Austin Alvarez falling short of a touchdown after his 77-yard scramble.

Earlier, the Lion signal-caller torched Ripon by utilizing his two big targets in Joe Collins (6-5) and Aaron Judge (6-7). But the Ripon defense led by the likes of Christian Spence, Anthony Meneses and Curtice denied Linden. Curtice, in fact, made a statement by delivering a hard-hit shot to stop Jeremy Powers from crossing the end zone.

“That goal line stance was a huge play,” Johnson said.

Ripon also kept Collins and Judge in check, with Judge’s only big catch in the second half coming on an 18-yard grab in the final minutes.

“I can see where (Collins and Judge) are going to give problems to a lot of teams,” said Johnson. “They’re both great receivers.”

He also praised Alvarez, who completed 10 of 20 passes for 201 yards. He also had 116 yards on 12 carries.

Ripon scored on just its second play from scrimmage, with Alex Gustin scooting 77 yards to the end zone.

Alvarez put his team ahead with a 59-yard bomb to Collins and an “alley-oop” pass to Judge.

Gustin had a stellar first half. He kept the game close by scoring on a 16-yard run prior to the break — the play was set up by Durrer’s 47-yard scamper — and recovering a fumble inside his own 5.

As for penalties, Ripon was flagged down eight times for 74 yards in the first half, but had six infractions for 35 yards in the second half.

“The difference between the first half and second was that we stopped on the (personal foul) penalties,” Johnson noted.

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