RIPON – It had all of the makings of a senior night for the ages.
A chance to knock a league opponent – which has been mired in a hazing scandal – out of the playoffs and cap off what has been a rebuilding year with a massive victory.
But it didn’t turn out that way.
Hughson 42, Ripon 21.
The Huskies jumped on Ripon early on Friday night at Stouffer Field and kept the pressure on long enough to build a lead that was insurmountable for the young Indians. Had it not been for an amazing catch at the end of the first half, Ripon would have gone into the locker room down four touchdowns.
“Hats off to them. After all that they’ve been going through this week they just came out and whipped us in all phases of the game. You really can’t say much more than that,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said. “It’s just been one of those years where we’re young – we only had 11 seniors this year – and when you’ve got young guys stepping up all of a sudden they have to make those plays.
“It was a rebuilding year for us and I think you’ll see the benefit next year. We’ll be back. It was just a tough night tonight against a group of guys that came out fired up.”
And it was a two-pronged attack that made Hughson so potent.
On the ground was running back Richard Herrera – a stand-up bruiser that had no problem running inside and scrapping for those extra yards when the play demanded it. He also just happened to have the breakaway speed that allowed him to gallop 57 yards into the end zone when he found a seam in the third quarter.
That score gave Hughson a four-touchdown lead that iced the contest.
What Herrera was able to do in the ground, Walter Fountain was able to do in the air.
The junior quarterback completed 10 of his 13 attempts for 253 yards and three touchdown strikes. He possessed the kind of rollout speed that proved to be too much for the Ripon defense.
“We just didn’t have the intensity tonight when we first took the field. We came out flat,” said Ripon senior running back Ryan Fugit, who finished with 114 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. “They’re a good team and they took advantage of that, and even though we came back out focused, they were fired up and ready to play.
“It’s a young team this year and I love every one of these guys. I think that they’ll be great next year and the young guys taught us seniors as much as we taught them. Everybody helped each other. That’s how it works.”