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Knights hang tough early, but Ripon wins
Baciocco powers Indians prolific running game
Ripon Christians Josh Van Groningen (80) extends out to catch a pass over Ripons Reed Yoshida. - photo by GLENN KAHL

RIPON – If football games were won and lost in the first quarter, Ripon Christian would have had some serious celebrating to do on Friday night.

After five straight years of getting trounced by intracity rival Ripon High, the Knights managed to not only contain the Indians’ high-powered offense for the first 12 minutes Friday night but also threw in a little glitz and glamour of their own.

They racked up twice as many first downs as Ripon did and managed to pick off a Cody Wengel pass that seemed to clearly shift the momentum.

But Ripon eventually showed that their size, speed and strength was no match for a squad that’s still adjusting to life in the Southern League, reeling off a pair of impressive touchdowns in the final three minutes of the second quarter and rode that to a 35-7 win.

“They’re a good team, but I think at the end of the day our depth wore them down,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said. “They were going to take away Jake McCreath and Cole Herrin and not let us throw to them, so we turned to our other guys. We’ve got some weapons – Anthony Baciocco is a special kid and sees the field very well.

“I think Josh McCreath ran the ball very well tonight, too. Having that balance on offense is huge, and that showed tonight.”

Part of what added to Ripon’s slow start was an onslaught of penalties. The Indians were flagged seven times for 50 yards in the first half, and 10 times for 105 yards in the second – taking away crucial yardage after big plays.

Despite stumbling out of the gate, Ripon’s offense began to click as time started to run out at the end of the second half. Baciocco started the explosion by taking a reverse sweep outside and dashing 62 yards to set-up the team’s first score of the night. He would eventually take the ball into the end zone from the 7-yard line.

After Kyle Wengel connected with Cole Herrin with 11 seconds left in the half to cap it off with a touchdown, Ripon focused on what they needed to do during the next half and let everything fly when the Indians came back out onto the field.

“We came out strong and fired up. The line came out ready and we got that push up front that we needed,” said Ripon back Josh McCreath. “We just came out slow tonight, but we got it going in the second half. I think that we’re getting better as a team, but we’re still going to have to work on fixing our mistakes.

“Once we do that I think we’ll be fine.”

Baccioco peeled off another touchdown run from 25 yards out, and then caught a scoring strike from Wengel 4 minutes later to give the Indians a clear lead that they would ride out to victory.

The Knights managed to find daylight when Andrew Brown dashed up the middle from a yard out in the fourth quarter, but any chance of a comeback was thwarted by Ripon’s stingy defense.

“Tonight, I thought we were going to be able to come out and play with these guys. We came with our ‘A’ game, but we just couldn’t punch it in,” Ripon Christian coach John Vander Schaaf said. “There were three or four big plays in that first half that killed us, and by then our guys were let down and were trying to do things that weren’t their assignment.

“They just got emotionally worn down. They played hard, and that’s what you want to see.”

Ripon Christian will travel to Linden on Friday, Sept. 16 to take on the Lions while the Indians will gear up to take on the visiting Argonaut Mustangs at Stouffer Field.