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Defense sparks Ripons comeback victory
Ripon’s Jake McCreath scrambles for extra yardage in front of Modesto Christian’s Robby Harvey. - photo by HIME ROMERO
RIPON —With Modesto Christian’s size advantage in both girth and height, coupled with all-around speed, Ripon didn’t seem to have a chance to come back from an 8-0 deficit in the fourth quarter of the junior varsity contest.

But the Indians showed impressive fight and big-play ability on the defensive end, as they scored all of their points in the last half of the fourth to stun the Crusaders 13-8 at Stouffer Field Friday.

Reed Yoshida’s 7-yard touchdown run with 41 seconds remaining decided it. The scoring drive was set up by a fumble forced by Jordan Sullivan and recovered by Cole Herrin on Modesto Christian’s 36 with 2:12 left.

Ripon (2-0 Trans Valley League, 6-1 overall) marched downfield much more easily on the game-winning drive than it did all game. Jake McCreath hit Mariano Villalobos for a 15-yard pass play, and McCreath’s first-down rush a few plays later preceded Yoshida’s score.

Modesto Christian (1-1, 5-2) battled until the end, but the game’s final series ended with Nate Sudfield’s 18-yard pass to Nate Straubinger, who was stopped on the Ripon 19.

 “This was an emotional game,” Ripon coach Jorge Velasco said. “We never gave up. They played with big heart and with passion, and that’s all we asked of them all week.”

Velasco gave kudos to his quarterback for his leadership. McCreath put Ripon on the board with a 3-yard run with 5:38 left but was stopped on the 1 while attempting to tie it on the two-point conversion.

“Jake wanted the ball,” Velasco said. “On that two-point conversion that he missed, I was going to call something different but he really wanted it.”

Ripon ended up forcing four turnovers in the second half. Ripon defensive back Anthony Bociocco set the tone midway through the third with a huge interception. Modesto Christian drove to within the Indians’ 5 and threatened to break it open, but Bociocco got in front of the intended receiver on a fade pattern and returned it to midfield.

Blake Escobar also had a pick for Ripon.

 “That was a big play by Anthony,” Velasco said. “It was kind of like a gift. I didn’t even know he had the ball.”

Manteca 30, Ceres 22
Things weren’t looking very good for the Manteca High sophomores as they headed into the locker room down 22-8 at the half.

But once they came back out onto the field, everything changed.

The Buffaloes were able to score three unanswered touchdowns, one a two-yard run by Alex Martinez with a failed conversion and two by BJ Odell – the first from eight yards out and the second a two yard scamper. Both of Odell’s second-half scores were magnified by his consecutive conversion runs.

He also had the game’s first touchdown – an 11-yard run that was capped off with an Alex Martinez conversion pass to Riley Cockrum.

“This was just a great high school football tonight – our team never quit,” Manteca sophomore head coach Adam Liel said. “BJ Odell has been a real find in the last couple of games and gave us the spark we needed tonight with his three touchdowns.

“Quarterback Alex Martinez has been our heart and our soul and his leadership is without question, and our defense really stepped up tonight to give us a chance to win this game.”

Ripon Ch. 23, Riverbank 15
Led by the rushing trio of Zach Hildago, Zach Davis, and Tim Ignacio the Ripon Christian sophomore football team was able to edge out a 23-15 win Thursday night despite a rough start.

Hildago racked up 95 yards and a touchdown on only seven carries, while Davis racked up 66 yards on his nine carries.

Tim Ignacio would also find the end zone for a crucial score and finished the game with 81 yards on 11 carries.

“After a very ugly first half of football the Knights were able to open up some nice holes for the running backs in the second half,” Ripon Christian head coach Michael Dotinga said. “The defense made a great goal line stand to end the first half, and they were really helped out by Dalton Kolosky, Tim Ignacio, and Clayton Blankers who each had an interception.

“We look forward to playing at home again against a tough Ripon team.”

Lathrop 30, Soledad 0
The Lathrop Spartans cruised to their third win of the season Thursday night against the Salinas-area Soledad.

Andrew Robinson scored first for Lathrop on a 23-yard bootleg run, while Christian Pena scooped up a loose fumble and returned it 45 yards for the game’s second score.

Jordan Burns rushed in from three yards out for another score, while Christian Pena dashed 30 yards to round out Lathrop’s scoring in their easy victory.