In a game where both teams ran 65 plays each, the Ripley Vikings got the most out of theirs in Friday night’s showdown with Princeton.
The Vikings scored the game’s first touchdown in the opening quarter and essentially never looked back en route to a 40-18 win. Ripley added three more scores in the second quarter.
The victory sent Ripley to 5-1. It marks the first time Ripley has had a five-win season since the 2012 campaign under then head coach Jimmy Frashier.
“It’s really nice to have a non-losing season,” Eddie Smolder, Ripley’s fourth-year head coach, said. “We don’t have a winning season yet, but we have gotten over the hump.”
Ripley had suffered through back-to-back 4-6 seasons in 2016 and 2017.
Ripley racked up 458 yards of total offense Friday night to Princeton’s 337. Ripley ran its record to 3-0 in the series with the Tigers from Mercer County.
“Princeton was big and physical and very athletic,” Smolder said. “Our kids were very aggressive and very physical.”
Ripley used some trickery to score its first touchdown as wide receiver Evan King took a reverse handoff and threw a pass to R.J. Evans that covered 24 yards with 3:31 remaining.
It was the start of a big night for Evans, who would rush for 196 yards on 26 carries. Davisson Flint added the extra point to put Ripley in front 7-0 and the Vikings would never trail.
In the second quarter at the 7:06 mark, Jeremy Harper crashed in from 6 yards out. Flint’s kick followed for a 14-0 Viking lead.
Princeton responded with a 44-yard TD pass from Ranson Graham to Chiron Cannady. The Tigers went for two but Graham was stopped from getting in for the score.
Up 14-6, Ripley more or less put the game out of reach with two more touchdowns in the quarter. Dalton Myers raced 62 yards at the 2:48 mark. Then with 1:22 left, Evans got in from 4 yards. Flint made his PAT attempt after the Myers TD but missed following the Evans score.
Leading 27-6 at the break, Ripley tacked on two more scores in the third quarter starting with a Harper 6-yard run with 5:52 to go in the quarter. A two-point try was unsuccessful for the Vikings.
With 3:18 to go in the quarter, Evans raced in from 13 yards out. Flint’s kick was good to give Ripley a commanding 40-6 edge.
Princeton scored again at the 3:01 mark of the third when Graham and Cannady hooked up on a 71-yard pass. The Tigers misfired through the air on its two-point try.
The final score of the game came with 3:07 to play when Graham and Jacob Holston connected from 12 yards out. A run by Graham for two was again stopped by the Vikings.
Ripley piled up 372 yards on the ground and 86 passing.
Harper followed Evans with 76 yards on 13 carries. Myers finished with 68 yards on six carries. Quarterback Cyrus Casto had eight carries for 39 yards.
Casto was 4-of-10 passing for 62 yards. King completed the one TD pass to Evans.
Evans had two catches for 47 yards. Harper snagged two for 13 and Myers had one reception for 26.
Casto led Ripley in tackles with 7.5. Others were Dalton Myers (5.5), Josh Kay (5.5), Caydan Keeler (3.5), Chris DeFrank (2.5), Noah Westfall (2), Jake Lawrence (1.5), Evans, King, Kadin Hall, Justin Wheeler, Austin Rhodes, Matthew Moore, Dawson Anderson all were credited with one.
Flint had one monster punt of 53 yards.
Luke Miller had a kickoff return of 28 yards. Westfall and Wheeler each had one of 12 and 7 yards, respectively.
Ripley will hit the road for its next encounter. The Vikings journey to Fairlea for a showdown with Greenbrier East on Friday at Spartan Stadium.