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Escalon continues domination of playoff-bound Ripon
Cougar player Josh Miguel keeps his hands on the ball after catching a pass near the sideline. Ripon’s Jared Macedo was there as well, though Miguel was ruled out of bounds on the play. - photo by MARG JACKSON
RIPON – After getting beat 11 straight times, it’s safe to say that there’s going to be a little bit of intimidation.

But if there was any doubt in the heart of the Ripon Indians Friday night, it wasn’t noticed. With a Sac-Joaquin Division IV playoff spot already secured, they marched into Stouffer Field with hopes of reversing the trend Escalon High started more than a decade ago.

Reversing the curse just wasn’t meant to be for which fell to the Cougars, 21-6.

Even with a preferable playoff seed serving as a motivating factor, Ripon (3-2 Trans Valley League, 7-3 overall) was unable to get its offense consistently firing, giving the Cougars (4-1, 9-1) chances that they would capitalize on and eventually use to put the game out of reach.

Both teams will be representing the TVL in the playoffs.

“Of course I’m a little bit disappointed tonight. You can’t come out and make mistakes against a team like Escalon because they’re going to make you pay for them and that’s exactly what they did tonight,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said. “I’m proud of my kids and each week we keep getting better and better, but we don’t just want to improve – we want to win games.

“These are the guys you measure yourself against.”

A costly turnover by Escalon in the first quarter gave Ripon its first chance to score on a Cougar mistake, but the drive ended in a punt that was downed at the 1-yard line.

Bruising back and linebacker Nick Curtice managed to be productive with his 72 yards on 11 carries and the team’s only touchdown. Quarterback Alex Gustin relied on his legs because of he was unable to find a rhythm with his receivers.

Gustin racked up 82 yards on the ground on 14 rushes.

The dynamic duo of Escalon’s Steven Silva and Josh Miguel proved to be too much for the Ripon defense to handle. Silva finished with 140 yards on 27 carries – serving the role of the Cougar workhorse in just about every formation possible. He also scored from one yard out in the third quarter.

Miguel made the most of his 15 carries, rumbling for 115 yards including a 57-yard touchdown that essentially iced the game.
“A loss is never fun, and that’s especially true tonight,” Curtice said. “But right now we’ve got another shot to come back and give it our all – all that we can ever do is give 100 percent.

“All of the guys on the team are best friends – we’re like brothers out there – and that’s important at this time of the year when we’re getting ready for the playoffs. We’ll come out next week and do the best we can.”

The chance exists that the Indians will have to travel to Tuolumne County where they’ll take on the Summerville Bears for the second time this year. Ripon is responsible for Summerville’s only loss, 32-23.

 “I honestly don’t care who it is that we’re playing next week, and I haven’t given it a whole lot of thought,” Johnson said. “We’re going to spend the next week getting better, licking our wounds, and playing the way that we know we can.”