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Ripon’s Division-V title defense ends at Escalon in semifinals
Bulletin sports fall 2021
Ripon’s Jack Manning dashes past Stephen Percy of Escalon during his 78-yard punt-return touchdown Friday at Engel Field. - photo by GARY JENSEN/


Ripon 3 7 0 0 — 10

Escalon 0 17 3 14 — 34


First quarter

R — Jesus Ochoa 22 field goal, 1:11.


Second quarter

E — Logan Anderson 20 pass from Donovan Rozevink (Alfonzo Gonzalez kick), 9:57.

R — Jack Manning 78 punt return (Ochoa kick), 6:13.

E — Ryker Peters 44 run (Gonzalez kick), 5:50.

E — Gonzalez 30 field goal, 0:33.


Third quarter

E — Gonzalez 38 field goal, 5:16.


Fourth quarter

E — Peters 4 run (Gonzalez kick), 9:09.

E — Owen Nash 56 pass from Rozevink (Gonzalez kick), 7:08.

ESCALON — Ripon has seen enough of Engel Field.

The Indians returned to the home of their great rival on Friday, and for the third time in seventh months left defeated. Their reign as Sac-Joaquin Section Division V champions was ended by top-seeded Escalon, which rallied for 24 unanswered points for a resounding 34-10 victory in the semifinal.

Escalon faces another Trans-Valley League foe next week in the title round. The Cougars (11-1) will play in their 16th Section final on Saturday, Nov. 27 at St. Mary’s of Stockton against No. 6 Hilmar (11-2), which routed No. 7 Casa Roble, 41-8.

Ripon (8-5), seeded fifth, previously lost at Escalon in April during the pandemic-shortened season and again a month ago when the two dueled with the TVL championship at stake.

“Even though you don’t want to end like this, losing to one of your rival schools, it feels good to show people that we can still make a push deep into the playoffs than most people thought we would,” Ripon senior wingback Jack Manning said.

Ripon has indeed come a long way since its wonky spring schedule, which included two canceled games. Aside from few holdovers from the 2019 state championship team, the 2021 Indians came out of the other side of the coronavirus lockdown with an unproven roster of players and had to work through several tumultuous moments throughout the season.

“Right now it hurts because we didn’t perform well enough and I didn’t do a good enough job preparing for this game, but if you go back to (when we were) 0-2 after (losses to) East Union and Sonora and would have told me then that we’d be in the semifinals I probably would have called you crazy,” Ripon coach Chris Musseman said. “This was the most adjust-on-the-fly season I can remember. Things just kept changing.”

Ripon was unable to change its fortunes against the Cougars, however. Winners of eight straight, Escalon did little to hurt itself, made big plays on third downs and got two interceptions in the second half to break it open.

“We put up almost 40 points in back-to-back games to start the playoffs and then we hit a roadblock tonight,” Ripon quarterback Adam Barrera said.

Ripon could only muster 73 yards of offense over the final two quarters, finishing with 191 while Escalon amassed 431. Barrera completed 10 of 25 passes for 113 yards and was the Indians’ leading rusher with 36 yards on eight carries. A late addition after transferring from Sierra, Barrera’s first start of the season was the Week-9 TVL clash with Escalon.

“For Adam, bless his heart, this is his third game starting at quarterback,” Musseman said. “This is a pretty big game for him to do that.”

Ryker Peters led Escalon with 23 rushes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore QB Donovan Rozevink threw for two scores, racking up 153 yards while finishing 7-of-14 passing. His 56-yard touchdown to Owen Nash put it out of reach with 7:08 left.

Ripon started better than it did in the 21-7 loss to Escalon on Oct. 22 when the Cougars were up 14-0 just four minutes in. The Indians dominated the opening quarter on Friday, capping their lengthy first drive — covering 78 yards and 15 plays in 7 minutes, 14 seconds —with a 22-yard field goal from Jesus Ochoa.

Escalon responded on its next drive, with Rozevink finding Logan Anderson for a 20-yard touchdown early in the second quarter. That was set up by a 29-yard completion to Matthew Baptista on third-and-13.

“We gave up a deep ball on third-and-long, and you could see the body language of the kids at that point,” Musseman said. “We didn’t score the touchdown and had to settle for the field goal, and then we give that up. When they scored, we just couldn’t get our kids back. It was a struggle.”

Minutes later, Manning gave the Indians a spark. He took a line-drive punt and sprinted 78 yards to give Ripon the 10-7 lead.

“Right off the kick I knew it was going to be something, because I’ve had a couple of kicks that went like that where it wasn’t too high in the air and I knew I would have enough time to get to it,” Manning said. “When I had it, (Barrera) flushed this guy across my face and once I got right behind them I knew it was done from there. I just had to make sure I got into the end zone without tripping.”

That was the last game-changing play Ripon made for the night.

Escalon quickly recaptured the lead, needing just two plays on its next series that was capped by Peters’ 44-yard touchdown. Alfonzo Gonzalez nailed a 30-yard field goal at the end of the half, and the Cougars went into halftime with the 17-10 lead and all the momentum.

“We found something that was working on that first drive and then they adjusted,’ Barrera said. “We couldn’t find our groove after that. They locked us up.”

Senior Ethan Day contributed 81 yards from scrimmage, getting 52 of them on six catches. Running back Caleb Johnston, who had 113 yards and three TDs in Ripon’s 39-20 win at Pioneer last week, was limited to seven yards on six carries but was in on multiple tackles for losses as an inside linebacker on defense.