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Herrin hero in Ripon's rout of RC
Ripon’s Andy Bunting comes together with a Ripon Christian captain during the pregame coin toss before Saturday’s Ripon Bowl. - photo by HIME ROMERO
RIPON – Ripon Christian realized that they were in for a huge challenge, but that did not detour the Knights from holding the Ripon Indians at bay over the first 20 minutes of the 5th Annual Ripon Bowl. Its ability to hold Ripon wouldn’t last, as the Indians’ defensive unit sparked the squad, led by a pair of interception returns for touchdowns by Cole Herrin in a 44-0 blowout home win for the Indians Saturday.

Herrin snatched a James Vander Schaaf pass at the 32 yard-line and returned it the distance to put Ripon (2-1) ahead 14-0 with just over 2 minutes remaining in the first half. Herrin would outdo himself in his finale, stepping in front of another Vander Schaff pass, returning this one 37 yards to seal the deal on Ripon’s fifth-straight Ripon Bowl victory.

“He just goes out there and makes plays,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said of Herrin. “When you watch our first two games, he has definitely been a contributor in both of those games. He has four picks in three games, and really just has a sense of where the ball is going to be.”

Herrin’s contributions were more than appreciated by his offensive teammates, who struggled to convert a legitimate offensive game-plan into points. Ripon Christian was able to hold the Indians scoreless until 5:56 left in the second, when Ryan Durrer (11 carries, 69 yards, 1 TD) broke the seal with a 18-yard score following a Anthony Baccioco interception.

“We were actually pleased with our defensive effort for the entire game,” Ripon Christian head coach John Vander Schaaf said. “Ripon is a very good team, but we just could not take care of the ball.

“We gave up too many turnovers which led to easy scores, and that was the ball game.”

Ripon pasted all of its first half points on the scoreboard in the final six minutes of the first half. Durrer’s score was followed by Herrin’s pick and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Alex Gustin to Jake McCreath. The scoring outburst seemingly left the Knights baffled and bewildered for the final two quarters, as Ripon held the Knights out of the red-zone for the remainder of the contest.

“Offensively, we were our own worst enemy in the first half,” Herrin said. “We were able to get some good offensive plays, but we would keep beating ourselves with penalties.

“It was our defense that brought us back into the game, and our coaches definitely talked about stepping up and getting our defensive side picked up.”

The Indians most celebrated moment came late in the fourth quarter when the Ripon reserves were in and wide receiver Walter Fassler hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass from back-up quarterback McCreath, sending the Ripon faithful into a frenzy.

The Indian defense refused to let up, stripping Ripon Christian two plays later for its sixth turnover of the game. Ripon will have to refocus immediately with the Argonaut Mustangs coming into Ripon Friday for the squads’ final tune-up leading into its Trans Valley League opener against TVL new face Hilmar.

Ripon Christian will close out non-league action the same evening when they host Linden at 7:30 p.m.