MODESTO — Aaron Paschini’s touchdown catch on the final play of the first half sparked Ripon High to a dominant second half and a 34-7 victory over Modesto-Grace Davis in a non-league game Thursday.
Ripon (2-2) had been held scoreless, right up to the final play of the half.
After sophomore quarterback Ryan Daggett scrambled left to escape pressure, he lofted a ball to the corner. As the horn was sounding, Paschini separated from the defender to make his third TD catch of the season to tie the game 7-7.
The second half was all Ripon, scoring 27 unanswered points. Paschini grabbed his second TD pass, and fourth-quarter TD runs by Ryan Wilson and Riley Machado sealed the win. Paschini had a third TD catch called back for a penalty.
“(Daggett) did a good job of getting the ball to me,” Paschini said. “Davis had its best cornerback on me, but you could see our offense start to work in the second half.”
Ripon’s schedule has been challenging, with games against defending state bowl (Sierra) and Sac-Joaquin Section (Sonora) champions sandwiched around a victory over Galt. Next up is Sutter, a perennial Northern Section small-school power.
While the Sierra game came down to the finish, Ripon was sent reeling last week by a 69-7 thrashing by Sonora. Both of those opponents are 3-0, and Galt is 1-2 and its other loss is to a 3-0 team — so there’s no question the Indians’ strength of schedule.
It was a frustrating first half for the Indians, up until Paschini’s TD on the final play.
Twice the Indians were denied turnovers by penalty flags away from the ball, then Aaron Paschini’s 28-yard TD catch against double coverage was waved off.
Davis (2-2) opened the scoring with a 65-yard TD run by Sal Rodriguez, who slipped two Ripon defenders and found space to cut upfield and run down the right sideline for a 7-0 lead 5 minutes into the game.
Ripon linebacker James Gaalswyk provided a critical hit in the second quarter, denying Davis a potential touchdown when he slammed into the receiver and jarred the ball loose on a fourth-down play inside the Indians’ 20.