RIPON – Chalk up a satisfying Trans Valley League victory for the Indians.
Thanks to Friday’s 40-33 win over Modesto Christian at Stouffer Field, the Ripon High varsity football squad all but assured itself of a post season berth.
“We’re in a nice spot,” said Indians coach Chris Johnson, whose team improved to 2-2 in league, 6-2 overall.
Ripon fought a formidable foe in the Crusaders, who boasted University of Arizona-bound quarterback Nate Sudfeld.
He connected on 23 of his 43 passes for 378 yards and four touchdowns.
“That’s was one great quarterback (we faced),” Johnson said of Sudfeld. “We had to prepare for him by playing back our two safeties – I don’t we’ve ever done that here.”
Ripon employed a ground game that posted 310 yards on 31 carries led by Anthony Baciocco (104 yards on 22 carries) and Josh McCreath (177 yards on 21 pops).
“Our ‘o’ line did a great job of blocking up front,” said Johnson.
The Indians scored first. Jake McCreath hauled in Kyle Wengel’s 34-yard toss in the opening three minutes.
He was just getting started.
Modesto Christian (2-2, 4-4) had its aerial attack in sync during most of the first half.
Sudfeld connected with Travis Sauser on a 22-yard scoring strike, Zack O’Leary on a 14-yard touchdown, and Nathan Straubinger on an 85-yard bomb in the first half.
Ripon more than counter, with Kyle Wengel finding Jake McCreath on scoring tosses of 8- and 23- yards. The older McCreath finished with three touchdown grabs and a quarterback late in the game.
Josh McCreath delivered on a 44-yard draw play in the second quarter, finishing with a game-high 177 yards on 22 carries.
Ripon also won the turnover battle, recovering a first-half fumble and intercepting a pass in the third quarter. Trevor Daniels was credited with the theft.
Down 32-19 at the half, Modesto Christian strung together a scoring drive on its first possession, with Damien Bell-White hauling in Sudfield’s 6-yard TD toss.
The Indians added some fourth-quarter insurance, scoring at the 9:47 mark on Baciococo’s 1-yard run set up by Josh McCreath’s 16-yard pickup.
The Crusaders came to within striking distance when Sudfeld found Javaugh Iversen on a 14-yard touchdown toss.
Ripon played tough defense down stretch, surviving Modesto Christian’s comeback bid highlighted by Jake McCreath’s quarterback sack.
“They had 19 guys but they just kept coming at us,” Johnson said. “But in the end, we made the plays that we had to make.
“More importantly, we never quit.”