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Indians continue 2nd-half magic
Alex Gustin
RIPON – When quarterback Alex Gustin found a wide-open Jake Carlson in the Calaveras endzone, the Ripon Indians  had put themselves in position for the squad’s third dramatic come-from-behind victory.

A valiant defensive effort over the final two minutes sealed the deal for Ripon’s first win over the Redskins in more than 10 years.

Ripon shook off the ill effects of a lackluster first two quarters and shined brightly in the second half, scoring 14 unanswered points and pulling out a 14-10 victory that folks in Ripon will be talking about for a long time.

“I think our defense stepped up big time,” Ripon head coach Chris Johnson said. “To hold a team like that, constantly getting three and outs, our guys just really made plays.

“I really think our conditioning wore them down at the end.”

The Indians (4-1) without question showed signs of being the fresher team, dominating the battle in the trenches and keeping a once-bruising Redskin offense in check for the entire second half of play.

Ripon needed just one spark to ignite its comeback, and that came mere moments into the third period when senior Hart Yoshida scooped up a Calaveras fumble at the Redskins’ 6-yard line and slipped into the endzone for the Indians’ first points.

“I was just hoping that I didn’t drop it,” Yoshida said. “I was so scared I was going to drop it and not score. I picked it up and no one was around me, and I just ran it in.

“I try to make plays coming off the edge, and that time I was able to make one.”

The play not only stripped the Redskins of most of their hard-earned lead, but it also shifted momentum to the home team with just under two full quarters of football to play.

The two teams exchanged blows throughout the third quarter, with Calaveras losing the handle on two fumbles and mustering up just one first down, which came on a botched punt snap in which Calaveras ran 8 yards, extending the drive for three carries.

Ripon finally got its opportunity to take the lead when Gustin manufactured a magnificent 55-yard, 11-play drive that culminated with a great play call that left Carlson standing all alone for his first catch of the game.

“This is like the third time we have come from behind,” Gustin said. “We were very confident; we got a great push off the ball and just put together a great team effort.
“I don’t know what I was thinking, but I knew that we had the perfect chance to finish them right there.”
Calaveras was forced to turn its chances over to starting quarterback Garrett Bock, but with only a single completion at that point in the game, Calaveras’ chances seemed glim. Brock was able to lead his squad to one first down, but four consecutive incomplete passes left Ripon with 1:17 to tip-toe off the clock for its fourth win of the season.

The Indians’ defensive effort played the prominent role in the win, but the play and leadership of their starting quarterback down the stretch was something that the Ripon faithful can surely get accustomed to heading into the Trans Valley League season.

“He’s getting better every week,” Johnson said of his signal caller. “You just saw a kid in his third official start at quarterback ever. He’s just a gamer who is getting better and better.

“He’s a great player, and we’re glad to have him.”

Ripon will look to open Trans Valley League action full steam ahead as they make the trip to Hughson to take on the Huskies. The win over a solid Calaveras program will undoubtedly have positive effects for the Indians football team.

“This win is huge for us,” Johnson said. “This really gives our team a big shot of confidence. We really felt that this was a good football team and if we can come out and play with this team we, feel like we can play with anybody.”