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Ripon defense worn down in second half

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Ripon defense worn down in second half

Ripon's Jared MacEdo keeps his concentration while making a one-handed grab before getting hit by Argonaut linebacker Sam McCarthy.

Photo contributed/

POSTED September 26, 2009 1:00 a.m.
RIPON — Ripon’s defense was good for three quarters.

Argonaut’s defense was great for four.

The visiting Mustangs held Ripon to just three first downs, two aided by penalties, and 19 yards of total offense while forcing four turnovers, three of them interceptions, in a 24-0 shutout Friday at Stouffer Field.

The farthest Ripon got was the Argonaut 49-yard line on its first drive after holding the Mustangs to a three-and-out.

While the final score hardly looks flattering at first glance, the Indians valiantly battled Argonaut (3-0) tough for three quarters.

Argonaut led just 3-0 at halftime and didn’t score its first touchdown until standout running back Danny Welch carried it in from 16 yards out with 1 minute, 29 seconds to go in the third quarter.

It was a tremendous moral victory for Ripon, considering Argonaut, which many believe to be the frontrunner to claim the Mother Lode League title, outscored its previous two opponents (Valley, Golden Sierra), 118-6.

But Ripon’s defense was eventually worn down by the Mustangs’ deceptive and physical ground game. Welch grinded out 133 yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries; and Steven Bennett added 92 yards on 15 attempts.

“With a small team like this it’s hard going both ways — most of our starters go both ways,” said Ripon linebacker/fullback Nick Curtice, who had 15 tackles and forced a fumble. “It’s tough when it gets down to it, but we showed heart for those three quarters.”

The Argonaut effort on defense surely deserves credit, but Ripon didn’t do itself any favors by committing untimely and costly penalties.

Ripon was flagged 12 times for 120 yards. The penalty that hurt early on was a roughing-the-punter infraction after the Indians stood their ground on Argonaut’s second series.

Though the Mustangs couldn’t muster up any points on that drive and the one that followed, they ended up benefitting from favorable field position that eventually resulted in Bryce Zaffarano’s 21-yard field goal with 6:27 left in the second quarter.

The Indians were also twice flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, and once for a personal foul on a late hit.

“You just can’t give a team like that a short field, and the penalties absolutely killed us,” Ripon coach Chris Johnson said. “Our kids lost it emotionally tonight.”

“We’re a young football team with 18 new starters, so I think we can take some positives from this. We were able to go toe-to-toe for a while, but we need to be able to grow up emotionally to be successful.”

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