MODESTO – For the second straight year, Ripon High had its season end at the hands of Central Catholic.
The Raiders (12-1), who will take on Hilmar in next week’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV title game, took advantage of a second-quarter turnover to pull past the visiting Indians, 38-7.
“The final score wasn’t indicative of the game,” said Ripon coach Chris Johnson.
In fact, Ripon (11-2) scored first on Josh Clark’s 3-yard reception from Nick Price.
The 45-yard drive was set up by Michael Ysit, who had a 14-yard pickup off a swing pass followed by an 11-yard run. In the first half, he had 85 yards on seven carries and 62 yards on five receptions. Ysit finished with 109 rushing yards.
Central had trouble getting on track early thanks to a tough Indians defense led by senior lineman Kody Day. “I was proud of my team,” he later said.
Ripon, for the most part, controlled the first half, driving inside Raider territory on three other occasions only to be denied.
The Raiders, as usual, were quick to capitalize.
They turned a Ripon drive that stalled at their 35 into a 65-yard scoring drive. Central, down 7-0 at the time, picked up 21 yards on an option pass from running back Matt Ringer to Reggie Bland.
Ringer helped Central even things up on his 18-yard touchdown run.
The Indians drove deep into Raider territory on their ensuing drive. The big play was Price’s screen pass to Ysit, who picked up 34 yards.
But Central defensive back Nick Navarro came up with the first of his two interceptions in the end zone.
The Raiders marched 80 yards for the go-ahead score. Bland powered his way in for the 3-yard TD.
Clark took the ensuing kickoff to midfield and was further helped out by a 15-yard personal foul penalty by the Raiders.
Navarro was there to preserve Central’s 14-7 edge with his end-zone theft shortly before the intermission.
The Raiders used the momentum to pull away in the second half.
Ringer finished with a game-high 206 yards on 33 carries, adding touchdown runs of 43 and 5 yards.
Hunter Petlansky scored on a 5-yard run while placekicker Kenny Smart booted a 27-yard field goal.
“We gave it all we had,” said Johnson. “But their guys up front wore us down.”
Despite the loss, he was proud of the effort of his team.
“They have nothing to be ashamed. They put together one of the best seasons of any team that I had here,” Johnson said.
Day praised the Raiders, in particular, the adjustment they made in the second half.
“That’s a good program,” he said of Central.
Day added: “This was a tough loss – one I’ll probably regret the rest of my life.”