MODESTO — As Ripon Christian’s fullback, Seth Silveira is usually the one paving the way for others to get the glory.
The 5-foot-11, 168-yard junior stole the spotlight Friday night in the Knights’ Southern League finale at Big Valley Christian, where they hosted an improved Delhi team needing a win to have a shot at advancing to the postseason.
Silveira set varsity career highs with five rushes, 97 yards and two touchdowns as Ripon Christian fended off the Hawks, 22-13.
He busted loose on an impressive 55-yard jaunt into the end zone with 7:58 left in the second quarter, giving Ripon Christian a 15-7 lead. Silveira charged into the second level of Delhi’s defense and spun away from a tackler to get into the open field. Late in the third, he provided the Knights an insurance touchdown with a 31-yard run.
“Feels pretty great,” Silveira said. “But honestly our line is the best we’ve had, and it’s still a young line so we should be set for next year. Our guards did an awesome job of pulling on those plays, which enabled me to get into the open field and get those touchdowns.”
Ripon Christian (5-2 SL, 8-2 overall) rolls into the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs riding a three-game winning streak, but its string of shutouts ended on the game’s second play. Garret Thomas shot out of the backfield on a fly sweep and blew past Ripon Christian’s secondary on an 85-yard touchdown. Up until that point the Knights hadn’t given up points since the fourth quarter of a 23-7 loss to Gustine on Oct. 17.
Thomas, who split time at running back and quarterback, finished with 137 yards and two touchdowns on 18 rushes for the Hawks (3-4, 5-5).
“I think we showed a lot of fight tonight,” Ripon Christian coach Trey Ozenbaugh said. “Obviously a little concerned how we’d respond after going down early on the second play of the game, but the kids responded well.”
Thomas’ big play made up the bulk of Delhi’s first-half production (106 yards against RC’s 234). The Ripon Christian defense, led by sophomore linebacker Jake Beukelman (seven tackles) and Will Kamps (two sacks), gave Delhi little room to roam for much of the game. The Hawks turned the ball over on downs, lost a fumble recovered by lineman Adam Mensonides and threw an interception to Jared Stuit on their final three drives.
“Tonight we were not at our best on defense,” said Silveira, who also contributed six tackles. “We made a few mistakes and had too many penalties, but we did enough to get the win.”
Ripon Christian nearly pulled off a terrific goal-line stand in the third quarter after it was victimized by a questionable pass interference infraction on a fourth-and-16 play. Delhi eventually set up on RC’s 2-yard line but couldn’t score until Thomas barreled his way in from a yard out on fourth down. Thomas, though, was stuffed on the ensuing conversion run, as Ripon Christian remained ahead, 15-13.
The Knights responded with a five-play drive punctuated by Silveira’s second TD.
Ripon Christian finds out tonight at around 5 o’clock who and where it plays to open the SJS Division VI playoffs. The Knights will likely end up with the No. 4 seed and a first-round home game in the eight-team bracket.