The Ripon High School football team was staring deja vu right in the face last week Friday night.
Deja vu blinked.
Four weeks after blowing a late lead to eventual co-conference champion Plymouth, it led Winneconne 21-14 with a little more than a minute remaining and a playoff spot hanging in the balance.
Much like the game against the Panthers, the Tigers were carved up by the Wolves’ offense as they allowed a 94-yard drive for a touchdown in less than a minute left.
But this time, they had one more chance to come up with a big stop and didn’t let it go to waste.
Winneconne, which had nothing to lose after it was eliminated from postseason contention a week earlier, decided to go for the 2-point conversion. But Ripon denied Winneconne a win as the Wolves’ pass fell incomplete.
Senior Jordan Finley applied the pressure, hitting the quarterback as he was releasing the ball, while sophomore Eli Kropp provided the coverage on the play.
“We knew that even though we gave it [the touchdown] up, we weren’t giving up on that last play because we were still winning and we just had a ‘bend, but don’t break’ mentality,” junior co-captain Marshall Morrin said.
The Tigers then recovered the ensuing onside kickoff and were able to kneel on the ball for the win.
It was more than just another victory as they clinched their first playoff berth since 2010.
Ripon received the No. 7 seed in its bracket and will travel to No. 2-seeded Two Rivers Friday night.
“It feels good,” Ripon head coach Ronell Hubanks said of making the playoffs. “It was a hard win. We didn’t make it easy at all. We started off good, but then we just got too high, too fast and we ended up having to come back together and the defense did a great job of stopping them at the end.”
Read the full story, which includes information on a big game by Hunter Merrill, in the Oct. 20, 2016 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.