RIPON – The opening drive of a football game rarely affects the outcome.
But when Ripon Christian fumbled the ball away the first offensive possessions of the game, the missed opportunities became painstakingly obvious in a 24-21 home loss to the visiting undefeated Gustine Redskins.
The missed scoring opportunities coupled with four turnovers and costly penalties that extended the final Redskin scoring drive of the game – which extended the Gustine lead to 24-14 at the time – were not lost on head coach Trey Ozenbaugh.
“We 100 percent gave them the game tonight – period,” Ozenbaugh said. “We had opportunities tonight and we didn’t take advantage of them. We just came out and laid an egg.
“But I can say that I’m not walking out of this stadium tonight thinking that Gustine is the better football team. I can’t do that.”
Gustine failed to gain any traction after Knights back Derek Dotinga turned the ball over in Redskin territory on Ripon Christian’s opening offensive drive, and the team appeared to be firing on all cylinders with the team’s defense forced a punt and the drive the ball 87 yards for the game’s first score.
That’s when the mistakes started piling up.
It took Gustine just over three minutes to drive the ball 80 yards for the game-tying score, The Redskins aided by a pair of 15-yard facemask penalties and a defensive pass interference call that would have forced the them into a fourth-and-long.
The teams traded blows through the second quarter and into the second half when the Knights retook the lead with 6:16 to play in the third quarter.
The Redskins scored on the first play of the next possession when backup quarterback Trevor Flores took a halfback pitch and delivered it 65 yards downfield to a streaking Sebastian Figueroa – Gustine’s starting quarterback – for a shocking answer that proved to be game-making.
“We talked at the half and came out fired up but it wasn’t enough,” said McMurray – who dropped a would-be touchdown pass from Zuidervaart late in the game. “We beat ourselves up tonight and that ended up being the story.
“They came out and were physical and were ready for what we threw at them.”
Gustine retook the lead on a 30-yard Jesus Quezada field goal, and extended that lead to two possessions with just under three minutes to play in the contest. Ripon Christian scored quickly thanks to a 62-yard Travis Zuidervaart pass to Jonah Lewis – their second of the contest – and didn’t get a chance to retake the game until the clock ticked down to just over six seconds.
The loss was the second of the season to Ripon Christian after falling three weeks ago to Orestimba to open Southern League play. Gustine remains unbeaten and will travel to Newman to take on Warriors on Nov. 6.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.