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Ripon comeback spoiled by last-second Ceres stand
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CERES — The streak is over.

Ceres ended its dubious run of consecutive season-opening losses at 12 years with a 22-15 victory over Ripon Friday, and it came down to the wire.

The visiting Indians (0-1) threatened to close to within one on the game’s final play and were inches away of doing so. Quarterback Alex Gustin completed a short pass to Louie Mejia, who turned upfield for a 2-yard gain before Ceres’ Jeremy Cagle and Nick Welsh met him at the goal line as time expired.

It was a heartbreaking way for Ripon to begin the season, but it did well to keep Ceres within striking distance after a poor first-half effort that led to a 15-0 halftime deficit.

Drive-killing penalties and a safety, scored when punter Ryan Durrer was unable to get to a high snap near the Ripon end zone, were the biggest first-half bug-a-boos for the Indians.

Down but not out, Ripon garnered some momentum in the third quarter by scoring 15 unanswered points to tie it. Gustin found tight end Jake McCreath for a 4-yard touchdown pass with 8:23 remaining, and the two hooked up again for a two-point conversion after Ryan Durrer (15 carries, 85 yards) pounded in a TD from 2 yards out.

But Ceres running back Zach Naylor scored the game-winning touchdown on the next play from scrimmage with a 71-yard jaunt.

Ripon did well otherwise on the defensive end. Not counting the 71-yard run, Naylor was held to 40 yards on nine carries.

The Bulldogs, after going 0-10 last year, also won their first game since defeating East Union on Nov. 7, 2008.

Ceres Courier sports reporter Dale Butler contributed to this report.

— Jonamar Jacinto