RIPON – In order to move on in the Sac-Joaquin Section IV playoffs, the Ripon High Indians needed to play a near-perfect game Friday against visiting Central Catholic.
But six turnovers, including three in the first quarter that led to scores, ended Ripon’s otherwise great season with a 40-21 loss.
“We gave them a short field too often in the first half and couldn’t stop the big plays in the second half,” said Indians coach Chris Johnson.
His team finished the season with an 11-1 overall mark.
“We’ll be back and even better for next year,” said junior defensive lineman Kody Day, who had a sack and helped out on Ripon’s goal-line stance in the first half.
Miscues by the Indians early on contributed to Central Catholic’s early 17-0 advantage.
Raiders’ running back Ray Lomas IV nearly went the distance on the first play from scrimmage, going 49 yards before being upended by Ripon defender Bradley Clark.
Central Catholic (10-2) got to the 1 but came up empty. Clark, Michael Morris and Cole Herrin helped out on the stop.
Moments later, the Indians coughed up the ball at their own 14. Central Catholic then went up 7-0 on Rey Vega’s 5-yard touchdown run.
Ripon’s second fumble on ensuing possession resulted in to a 24-yard field goal by Raiders’ kicker Kenny Smart.
Central Catholic defensive back Joe Abbate picked off a pass – he had two interceptions in the game – setting up Donovin Townsend’s 13-yard run.
The Indians regrouped in the second quarter. They finally caught a break when quarterback Kyle Wengel, moving right, found Anthony Baciocco at midfield. He got a key block from Clark, hurdling over a defender en route to a 60-yard TD pass.
Ripon appeared fired up after that play.
Wengel, on the Indians’ next possession, connected with Herrin on a 37-yard pass play. He later found Morris on a 10-yard scoring strike.
Ripon went ahead shortly before halftime. Josh McCreath got tremendous blocking from his line, finding plenty room along the left side while going untouched on his 55-yard touchdown run.
Down 21-17, Central Catholic needed just one play in the second half to reclaim the lead.
Vega broke free on a 74-yard TD run, in turn, giving the Raiders’ a 24-21 edge.
The Indians then fumbled the ball in their own end zone for a safety, adding to Central Catholic’s lead, 26-21.
Central Catholic took advantage of good field position on its next drive. Lomas scored on a 28-yard run as the Raiders padded their lead, 33-21.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Raiders put the finishing touches as Vega’s third TD of the game was a result of a 75-yard run.
“Sooner or later, it’s like playing the slot machines – that kid gets the ball enough and he’s bound to break off a big one,” Johnson said.
Lomas, Vega, and fullback Dylan Morrison accounted for the bulk of Central Catholic’s over 330 yards on the ground.
Johnson was proud of his team’s effort.
“They played hard today,” he said. “But you can’t afford to make turnovers against a team like that in the playoffs.”