RIPON – The Indians were locked in a dog-fight of a homecoming game battle against Hughson.
Ripon High escaped with a 35-27 Trans Valley League victory, needing a pair of turnovers late in the game.
“We knew going in that this was going to be a tough game,” Indians coach Chris Johnson, who was able to breathe a sigh of relief once Lucas Bunting intercepted the Huskies’ desperation pass.
Ripon (3-0, 7-0) took advantage of some early Hughson turnovers while jumping out to a 21-0 first-half lead.
Linebacker Troy Burth intercepted a pass and raced29 yards in the first quarter to help the Indians take a 7-0 lead. His teammates – included was Bunting, who helped rush the quarterback – applied pressure on the Huskies to force the errant pass.
On its next drive, Ripon was helped out on a pass interference call. From there, Bradley Clark broke two tackles after hauling in a pass from Kyle Wengel, going 38 yards on the score.
Cole Herrin’s extra point kick made it 14-0.
Later in the second, Clark intercepted a pass. On the ensuing play, he got a pass interference call in his favor, in turn, setting up Anthony Baciocco’s 5-yard TD run.
Down 21-0, Hughson (0-2, 3-3) scored shortly before halftime. Bailey Carroll won a one-on-one matchup in the end zone while reeling in Kyle Karlee’s 13-yard pass.
The Huskies rode that momentum into the second half, scoring three times in the third.
First, Tanner Duron returned a punt, splitting the downfield coverage and racing 46 yards to pay dirt.
Kerlee followed that up by make the right read and dicing through the Indian defense. His 71-yard TD jaunt knotted the game at 21-21.
Moments later, Jorge Barajas recovered a fumble for Hughson, in turn, setting up Karle’s 27-yard scoring scramble. Hughson missed the extra-point kick but led, 27-21.
Josh McCreath helped kick start Ripon with his 33-yard gain late in the third. He later scored on a 1-yard run. Herrin’s kick put the Indians back on top, 28-27.
McCreath’s 32-yard rumble early in the fourth gave the Indians some breathing room. Clark had a 19-yard reception on the drive that got 15 more yards tacked on thanks to a personal foul penalty.
The Huskies still had the game within reach and threatened a few times late in the game. Baciocco snuffed out one drive with an interception inside his own 5.
Michael Ysit had a sack on the other Hughson drive. Moments later, Bunting secured the victory with an interception.
“This was a tough game, but we were able to bounce back and regain our focus,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if it was tough because we lost one of our captains (Tyler Swortfiguer) to injury.”