Hilmar High School lost a defensive battle to Ripon High School 3-7 on the Indians’ field Friday night. The Yellowjackets had some costly penalties and turnovers that they weren’t able to overcome to remain unbeaten this season.
“It’s a good life lesson. It’s about how do you define yourself with a loss. The kids played hard the whole game and this is what happens. You’re playing in a great league against a really good team and, you know, these kinds of days happen and you just got to take a deep breath and turn the page,” head coach Frank Marques said.
It was a physical game for both teams and they had almost identical total yards with 234 for the Indians and 226 for the Yellowjackets. The quarterbacks had a tough time moving the ball, but did have a few big plays. Ripon quarterback Dylan Degraff finished with 130 yards passing and Hilmar’s Cameron Mook finished with 91.
The Indians started the game with 14-play drive that got them into the redzone. But they gambled and went for it on fourth down an weren’t able to move the chains. The Yellowjackets took over and started off strong with a 32-yard run by Luis Vargas, but ended up punting the ball four plays later.
After Ripon went three and out on their next possession Hilmar got the ball back and was able to drive it down field for a 26-yard field goal with 2:12 left in the first quarter to score the first points of the game.
The Indians leaned in on their running game and scored on a touchdown on a two-yard run with 5:40 left until the half. The drive lasted 16 plays where Ripon ran the ball 15 times. The Yellowjackets were driving to score before the half and Mook connected with wide receiver Cameron Irelan on a 27-yardpass that brought them to the three-yard line with three seconds left in the half. Vargas was unable to run it in on the next possession and the score was 7-3 going into halftime.
Coming out of the half both defensives were able to lock down the other with consecutive three and out drives. Mook fumbled three plays into Hilmar’s next drive for the first turnover in the game. Ripon wasn’t able to capitalize though and punted four plays later. The Yellowjackets got the ball back and attempted a field from their 25-yard line, but it was block to end the third quarter scoreless.
With both teams struggling to move the ball in the second half, Mook was trying to make a play down the sideline but was intercepted by Nolan Young with 8:13 left in the fourth. On Ripon’s ensuing drive Degraff connecting with tight end Landon Thomas for a 20-yard pass. They got the ball to the Yellowjacket 17 but was again stopped on fourth down and gave the ball back to the Yellowjackets.
Hilmar thought they were back in it with a 50-yard pass from Mook to wide receiver Derek Taylor, but an illegal shift penalty negated the big play. They punted the ball and got the ball back with one more chance. But Mook fumbled the ball for his third turnover with 1:30 left to secure the win for Ripon 7-3.
Ripon was excited to get a win over a team like Hilmar and are setting their sights on a league championship.
“We heard all week Hilmar’s all this, all that. We just sent a message to the TVL that we’re here to play, we want the TVL championship and we’re going to come for it. At the beginning a lot of people were doubting us and we really came together,” said Degraff.
Even with the loss Hilmar is optimistic about their prospects for the rest of the season.
“The loss just means it's a loss but if we run the table, we get to share the TVL title. They still have a tough road ahead of them, they‘ve got to go through the rest of the league like we're going and I don't think it's going to be an undefeated league champion,” said Marques.
Hilmar will play a road game against Escalon next Friday at 7 p.m. Ripon will be back at home for Homecoming next Friday as they play Riverbank at 7 p.m.