The Ripon Chiefs varsity got on the board first Saturday, but that was not enough as the undefeated Escalon Outlaws battled back to win 28-8 in the Motherlode Valley Football League regular-season finale.
Nico Wall returned an Outlaws fumble to give the Chiefs good field position in the first quarter and set up Michael Solario pulling in a 37-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Daggett to give Ripon an early lead.
Spencer Schroen led Ripon with 65 yards on 10 carries.
The Chiefs open the playoffs Saturday against host Hughson at 6 p.m.
Chiefs 19, Outlaws 16
Dorian Dougherty capped off a fourth-quarter 71-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring plunge to give the Chiefs the come-from-behind victory in a battle of unbeatens.
Nico Ilardi (43 yards rushing) was 8 for 12 passing for 112 yards with touchdown passes of 10 yards to Matthew Padilla and 22 yards to Aaron Wood. Padilla had four receptions including one for 13 yards on a critical fourth down. Dougherty had a 30-yard halfback pass to Aaron McDonough and caught a 25-yard pass from Ilardi.
Aiden Benzinger (39 yards receiving, 55 yards rushing) sealed the victory with an interception on Escalon’s last drive.
Ripon will travel to Riverbank on Saturday to open the playoffs against Linden at 4 p.m.
Outlaws 24, Chiefs 18 (2 OT)
Blake Nichelson scored his second touchdown of the game for the Chiefs late in the game to force overtime but the Outlaws managed a score in the second overtime and kept Ripon out of the end zone.
Jackson Holt scored his first touchdown of the season in the first quarter for the Chiefs.
The same two teams meet in opening-round playoff action Saturday at 2 p.m. in Riverbank.
Seth Van Dyk, Alixzander Franco, Jesus Ochoa and Austin Wood led a stingy Chiefs defense that held the Outlaws to 22 total yards and two first downs.
The Ripon offense began its first drive with a 17-yard run by Dru Orlando followed by a 39-yard touchdown run by Franco. It took just two plays to move 50 yards on the next Chiefs possession with a 24-yard pass from Xzavier Clark to Jesus Ochoa and 36-yard touchdown run by Clark. Van Dyk capped the first-half scoring with an exciting 70-yard touchdown run.
Van Dyk forced an Escalon fumble to start the second half and Orlando scampered for a 31-yard touchdown on the next play. With no playoffs at this level, Stephen Dillman’s interception on the final play of the game ended the season on a high note for the Chiefs.