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Burse held in check, but MC finds way to win

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POSTED October 24, 2009 3:33 a.m.
RIPON — Modesto Christian came into Friday’s marquee Trans Valley League showdown at Ripon averaging 52.3 points per game.

The Crusaders and their star quarterback, Isaiah Burse, finally met their match.

And Ripon proved its worth despite the 21-13 loss.

The Indians (1-1, 5-2 overall) took it down to Modesto Christian’s 24-yard line on their final drive late in the fourth quarter in an attempt to score six and possibly tie it with a two-point conversion, but Alex Gustin’s pass was tipped by Crusader linebacker Tyke Andrew and picked off by Keaton Engel with 2:58 remaining.

Modesto Christian (2-0, 7-0), Northern California’s top-ranked small-school squad according the’s Bowl rankings, clinched the win with a 6-yard run by Kevin Roya on fourth-and-2, and Burse kneeled it on the next play to run out the clock.

“We had our opportunities,” Ripon coach Chris Johnson said. “We felt that if we can hang with them and be there in the fourth quarter that we had a shot to win. Our kids played their butts off today. I’m just really proud of our football team.”

Modesto Christian hadn’t been held to under 40 points until Friday, and Burse completed just six of 16 passes for 97 yards.

Burse is also the team’s leading rusher, but he had just 53 yards on 15 attempts and was kept out of the end zone for the first time this season.

During one of the game’s oddest plays, and certainly a highlight for Ripon, Burse had a pass tipped by lineman Andy Bunting at the line of scrimmage on the final drive of the first half. Burse caught the pass and was eventually nailed by Bunting, causing a fumble. Burse landed on the loose ball for a 24-yard loss.

“You have to give credit to our defense,” Ripon coach Chris Johnson said. “They just hustled. We preach pursuit, we preach getting to the ball.

“It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, we want to play our style of defense. For the last few weeks we’ve gotten better and better on that side of the ball.”

With Burse held in check, the Crusaders had to get production elsewhere. Roya rushed in two touchdowns, finishing with 52 yards on eight carries. He also caught three passes for 79 yards.

Engel had 10 touches for 72 yards and capped Modesto Christian scoring with an uncontested 1-yard scamper with 1:36 left in the third.

“They swarmed to Isaiah and tackled them well,” Modesto Christian coach Mike Parsons said. “They had a great game plan and great bunch of kids that trust the game plan, and they got after it. Give it up for Ripon, that’s a playoff team right there.”

After holding the Crusaders’ potent attack scoreless in the first quarter, Ripon tacked on the first points six seconds into the second with Louie Mejia’s 36-yard field goal. He also put up the game’s final score with a 23-yard boot with 8:33 remaining.

Gustin (12-for-20, 108 yards) kept Ripon in it with a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kody Wengel midway through the third, closing the Indians in, 14-10. The score was set up by running back Nick Curtice’s 39-yard rush up the middle.

Curtice was Ripon’s top offensive performer, as he grinded out 66 yards on 14 carries and produced 63 more on four receptions. Defensive lineman Hart Yoshida recovered two fumbles and had five tackles for losses.

“Overall, I’m not happy with the outcome but I am with our performance,” Curtice said. “I just wish we could have had that extra push to win. We really wanted to put Ripon on the map, but we showed we could keep up with the best of the best.”
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