The Ripon College football team gained only 144 yards of total offense and had a fumble returned for a touchdown against the College of St. Scholastica last week Saturday.

It also had a fumble returned for a touchdown.

While normally this would be a recipe for disaster, it wasn’t for the Red Hawks due to defense and special teams.

They intercepted four passes, recovered one fumble and returned a blocked extra point to the end zone en route to a 17-16 season-opening home win over the Saints.

Ripon trailed St. Scholastica 16-3 early in the third quarter, before rallying to score the final 14 points.

The win marks the second time in three years the Red Hawks have won their opening game and avenges a 28-27 defeat to the Saints last year in Duluth, Minn.

“It’s always good to get off on the right foot, especially when you struggled offensively like we did so much during the game,” Ripon head coach Ron Ernst said. “It was good to stay in the ball game and make plays. I thought our special teams really came through on some really good plays. Defensively, I think we had a good day.”

Defense was the story of the game for the Red Hawks.

In addition to the four interceptions and one fumble recovery, Ripon recorded two sacks and did not allow a fourth-down conversion as St. Scholastica was 0-4.

It also held onto a one-point lead for the final seven minutes, stopping the Saints twice.

“Once we got the lead or even got close, our defensive guys said, ‘Coach, they’re just not scoring again. They will not score,’” Ernst said. “You could just see it in their attitude that they were just really focused and tuned in.”

Read the full story, which includes information on strong performance from Bradley Knoblock and Decker Thompson, in the Sept. 10, 2015 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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