PATTERSON — In a footrace, Ripon doesn’t have a chance against the agile skill athletes from Patterson.
That was proven on several occasions Friday in the Tigers’ 36-21 victory at Patterson Community Stadium. Still, the Indians (1-1) had chances to keep pace on the scoreboard.
The offense failed to score in the first half after getting shut out in the second half of last week’s otherwise-impressive 34-20 triumph over Sierra. Ripon was inside the Patterson 40 on six occasions over the first two quarters as the Tigers built a 20-0 lead. The Indians committed three turnovers — all in the first half — and had three total drives stall in the red zone.
“We’ve got a lot of heart, we’ve got some skill but you have to play perfect and perfection starts at practice,” Ripon coach Chris Johnson said. “You’ve got to master the little details of the game in practice if you want to have an opportunity to compete with teams like that. The pieces are there, we have an opportunity to be a really good football team but we’re not there yet.”
The Indians finally ended the scoring drought in the third quarter on Caleb McCusker’s 2-yard run, but they fumbled the ball five times in the series. Although they were able to get untracked offensively, it was still an uphill climb as Patterson’s playmakers continued to do damage.
Patterson’s Kevin Todd used his weapons well, carving up the Ripon defense for 315 yards and five touchdowns while completing 17 of 25 passes. The Tigers (2-0) landed the knockout punch on the first play of the fourth quarter when Todd hit Pierre Williams (eight receptions, 133 yards) for a 24-yard touchdown on fourth-and-15. Todd’s conversion run pushed the Tigers’ lead to 36-14.
Patterson also has fleet-footed Michael Lawson (two TD receptions), Alex Espos (five receptions, 124 yards, two TDs; four rushes, 36 yards) and Jamal Broussard (21 rushes, 75 yards) for opposing teams to account for.
They also made plays on defense. Williams picked off a pass in the end zone, Espos forced a fumble and Lawson spoiled quarterback Nick Price’s 15-yard scramble by stripping the ball away and recovering it for a turnover.
“These guys had quite a few athletes who are very fast and can get around the corner,” Ripon linebacker Angelo Baciocco said. “They can run the seam up the middle, we just have to make sure we re-route them. They were able to get some big plays on us.”
Patterson struck early as Lawson made a nice leaping grab in the end zone on Todd’s 16-yard toss to cap the opening drive. Lawson’s conversion run made it 8-0. The Tigers defense then forced a three-and-out, and on the first play of their next possession Espos burned Ripon for a 47-yard catch-and-run score with help from a big downfield block by Jonathan Okitukunda.
“After those two drives we really settled down and eventually got our offense going,” Baciocco said. “We just need to work on the little things.”
McCusker led Ripon with 183 yards on 23 carries and became more effective deeper into the game. Price (14 of 23, 160 yards) also got into a groove with receiver Aaron Paschini (seven receptions, 129 yards), who scored on a 37-yard play with 2 minutes left in the third quarter. Matthew Dedonatis’ 3-yard run with 10:13 remaining was the final touchdown of the game.
“I think we wore on them a little bit and we were able to do some things, but you have to capitalize early,” Johnson said. “You do that it’s a different game.”
Defensively, outside linebacker Cody Haines had a sack and blocked a punt on consecutive plays in the first quarter. Defensive tackle K.J. Martinez also recorded a sack, while Andrew Wood contributed an interception.
While there are many big games ahead for Ripon, the good news is that it likely won’t see the same type of athletes that Sierra and Patterson brought to the table. Up next is Lathrop followed by marquee matchups with Sonora and Sutter. Then it’s on to the Trans-Valley League schedule.
“I think we were a little better this week than we were last week, but a game like this is going to make us grow up,” Johnson said. “The good thing is we play schools our size from here on out, and we’re at home the next three weeks.”