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Indians no match for Escalon
Ripon down 35-0 at half with QB sidelined to injury
Ripon High running back Louis Mejia was all business in Ripon’s loss to Escalon. Here he gains positive yardage with Escalon’s Mark Ceniceros diving for the stop. - photo by Wayne Thallander
ESCALON — Early in the first quarter, Ripon High met the challenge of stopping Escalon’s potent offense on first and second down, but its excellence shined through when the Cougars needed it most during their 45-13 blowout over Ripon Friday at Engle Field.

The Indians (0-2 Trans Valley League, 2-4 overall) pushed Escalon into a long third-and-21 and a third-and-11 on two first half possessions, only to see Escalon find backs out of the backfield for big-play scores.

Escalon junior Josh Miguel was the first to get loose, taking his third-down reception 91 yards for the first score of the game. Miguel made the catch at his own 30-yard line, went up the Ripon sideline before switching directions at midfield, finalizing the play with a brilliant spin move at the Ripon 20-yard line on his way to the score.

“They got some big pass plays on us where we got out of position a little bit,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said. “They were able to hit the home run. They caught some breaks, and really hurt us with those big plays early.”

Ripon’s struggles plagued its special teams most, getting a pair of first-half punts blocked to make an already challenging mission nearly impossible. Escalon turned the first block into points in four plays, the second in one.

The latter left Ripon with a 28-0 deficit, and a Ripon offense four-and-out punt set up Miguel’s second 60-plus yard score of the game. Miguel took the ensuing handoff 67 yards for a touchdown, going through a pair of Ripon defenders before blistering through the secondary virtually untouched.

“He started on the varsity last year as a sophomore and he is our playmaker,” Escalon head coach Mark Loureiro said. “He really makes things happen. He can hurt you on special teams; he can catch the ball; he can run.

“He can do a little bit of everything and I think you saw it tonight.”

Ripon’s chances sunk deeply when its starting quarterback, Alex Gustin, went down on the game’s sixth play. Gustin was banged up on a 1-yard-gain and then went down awkwardly the following snap to end his evening. Ripon’s Jake McCreath came in and handled the Indians’ offense, but losing their field general obviously had a negative effect on Ripon.

“When our quarterback went down that just took us right out of our game plan,” Johnson said. “He is kind of our guy. He’s our quarterback and everything we do runs through him. But I will say that Jake McCreath stepped in and did a great job.

“He really stepped in and played like a leader.”

Ripon’s lone bright spot came with the performance from Louie Mejia, who fought hard for each of his 71 yards rushing, scoring both of Ripon’s touchdowns from 12 and 9 yards out.

Ripon will have to get back at it immediately, playing host to the winless Hughson Huskies who are coming off a Week 6 bye.

“We’re in a one game season,” Johnson said of his club. “And that’s the way we’ve talked about it all year long. We are a better football team than that score shows and our record indicates.

“We just have to get back and get better, and get ready for Hughson next week.”