HUGHSON – Heartbreak.
Seemingly in control Friday night with an 18-point lead going into the fourth quarter, Ripon Christian gave up 21-unaswered points, as Hughson capped an improbable comeback with a 1-yard scoring plunge by Alex Villarreal with 11 seconds left in the game.
That gave the Huskies the California Interscholastic Federation Division V-AA Northern Regional championship with a 31-28 heart-stopping win at Husky Memorial Stadium.
“Everything went our way in the first half,” Knights coach Phil Grams said. “Things didn’t go our way last week when we lost three great seniors (to injuries) — Thys Van Der Hoek, Griffin De Abreu and Jacob Kowes — and then we had to come in here and play a great Hughson team. Coach Shaun King does a great job with them.
“When things were going our way in the first half, it looked like we were going to be able to survive the battle of attrition without our guys, but it didn’t go that way. They had an army of 62 and we brought out 21. We swung hard, we fought hard all night long and in the end we just didn’t have enough men left on the sideline, but we had a great season. Nothing can tarnish what we did.”
Robert McDaniel (14 of 29 passing, 206 yards, touchdown, interception) came up big for the Huskies (12-2) in the fourth quarter. He threw an 82-yard scoring pass to Ben Lightall with 3:59 remaining in the fourth quarter to come within 28-24 and on the ensuing drive on fourth down with 20 yards to go he completed a 30-yard pass to Malakai Sumter (seven receptions, 80 yards). to keep the drive alive for Villarreal’s game-securing plunge.
Liam Bridgford was the workhorse for Hughson, gaining 204 yards on 24 carries with a touchdown and two long runs on his team’s final scoring drive.
Ripon Christian (11-3) took a 21-10 halftime lead behind a 23-yard touchdown run from Derek Van Elderen (eight carries, 40 yards), a 45-yard touchdown pass from Trey Fasani (9 of 15 passing, 165 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions) to Eli Terpsma (two receptions, 83 yards) and an 80-yard kickoff return by Brady Grondz.
The Knights got their final score with 5:08 left in the third period on a 9-yard pass from Fasani to Jace Biedleman.
Dustin Hoekstra and Grant Sonke led the Knights with 11 tackles apiece. Jimmy Heida added eight stops, Ethan McGovern (interception) and Derek Van Elderen seven each, Terpsma six with four each for Preston Zuidervaart, Carson Bunnell and Cote Windorski.
The three previous playoff wins by the Huskies were by a total of six points and included a one-point, double double-overtime contest.
“For four weeks it has been like this,” King said. “We had an overtime game, we had to kick an onside kick to get here. This team is special. We are battle tested.”
Hughson will host Muir of Pasadena for the V-AA state championship next Saturday, Dec. 10 at 6 p.m.
CIF D5-AA Regional Championship: Hughson vs Ripon Christian | The Blitz Season 10The Blitz has coverage from the CIF D5-AA Regional Championship game between SJS D6 Champs Hughson High and SJS D7 Champs Ripon Christian High that took place on December 9, 2022. Sponsored By: Realtor Michael Rocha
Ripon Christian 7 14 7 0 — 28
Hughson 0 10 0 21 — 31
R — Derek Van Elderen 23 run (Ethan Schenk kick), 4:04
H — David Delgado 12 pass from Robert McDaniel (Ernie Mendoza kick), 9:29
R — Eli Terpsma 45 pass from Trey Fasani (Schenk kick), 7:44
H — Mendoza 26 field goal, 1:00
R — Brady Grondz 80 kickoff return (Schenk kick), :48
R — Jace Biedleman 9 pass from Fasani (Schenk kick), 5:08
H — Liam Bridgford 7 run (Schenk kick), 6:35
H — Ben Lighthall 82 pass from Robert McDaniel (Mendoza kick), 3:59
H — Alex Villarreal 1 run (kick fail), 0:11.