RIPON — Next man up.
Beset by injuries, Ripon put a combination of reserves and junior varsity call-ups on the field Friday night against visiting Livingston and the Indians did not miss a beat, routing the Wolves 41-0 in Trans-Valley League action at Stouffer Field.
“We heard all the chatter on social media about having all these injuries,” Ripon coach Chris Musseman said. “Everyone was counting us out.
“Our kids were ready to play. They have worked hard all year to have this opportunity and we were not just going to lie down. Yeah, we have had some injuries and we have to go from there. We have a totally different look on offense than we had three weeks ago.”
Running that new-look offense for the Indians (2-1 TVL, 6-1 overall) is replacement quarterback Aaron Wood, a junior. Wood led the offense to 399 total yards, connecting on a pair of 19-yard touchdown passes to Brandon Rainer and Dorian Dougherty and keeping one for himself on a 1-yard plunge.
“I am enjoying it at quarterback,” Wood said. “The line did a great job of protecting me so I can deliver for the team.”
The line did more than block for just Wood. Danny Hernandez was the workhorse for Ripon, bulling his way to 138 yards on 11 carries. He did not score on offense, but returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown midway through the second quarter for a 27-0 lead.
“Our line dominated this game,” Hernandez said. “They did a great job.”
Of his interception return, Hernandez said,” I have been looking for one all year. They finally threw it my way and I wasn’t going to be stopped until I got in the end zone.”
Recent junior varsity call-up Daniel Espinoza did not let his youth get in his way, churning out 98 yards on 16 carries with a 9-yard touchdown run.
“It is an honor to play up here with these guys,” Espinoza said. “Without their encouragement I would not be able to compete up here.
“These are a great group of guys to be playing with.”
In addition to his pass from Wood to cap the night’s scoring in the third quarter, Rainer (nine carries, 66 yards) started the game off with a 15-yard touchdown scamper barely three minutes into the first quarter.
The Indians limited the Wolves (1-1, 4-2) to 66 yards of offense. In addition to Hernandez’s interception, in the fourth quarter Austin Bonilla recovered a muffed Livingston punt and following a blocked Ripon field goal, the Wolves fumbled the ball on the return and Colin Speed recovered the loose ball.
Livingston 0 0 0 0 — 0
Ripon 3 21 7 0 — 41
R — Brandon Rainer 15 run (Nathan Valdez kick), 8:11
R — Daniel Espinoza 9 run (kick fail), 1:56
Second quarter `
R — Dorian Dougherty 19 pass from Aaron Wood (Valdez kick), 7:45
R — Danny Hernandez 75 interception return (Valdez kick), 5:44
R — Wood 1 run (Valdez kick), 1:07
R — Rainer 19 pass from Wood (Valdez kick), 6:51