(Reprinted from redhawks.ripon.edu)
At the beginning of the day on Saturday, there was only one head football coach in the history of the Midwest Conference with at least 150 victories. At the end of the day, there are two, as Ripon College Professor of Exercise Science and Head Coach Ron Ernst joined that select group with a 48-28 victory over Lawrence University, leaving him nine wins shy of the conference record of 159. That victory also marks Ripon’s 14th consecutive win over Lawrence and retains the Doehling-Heselton Trophy, given to the winner of this game each year in what is the oldest college football rivalry in the state of Wisconsin, celebrating the 120th anniversary this season of the teams’ first meeting.
“It’s a great feeling to reach this milestone and my thoughts immediately turn to all the players and coaches that have been a part of this,” Ernst said. “It’s impossible to have this much success by yourself and I’ve been blessed with great players and coaches that have had a willingness to commit to what we believe in as a team. It was just a great day all around.”
Ripon (7-3, 6-3 MWC) led from start to finish, as Eric Langman scored the first two touchdowns of the game to give the Red Hawks a 14-0 lead midway through the opening quarter. Lawrence (1-9, 1-8 MWC) then got on the board on a 64-yard touchdown pass from Luke Barthelmess to Sam Wagner for the Vikings only points of the first half. Ripon added two more touchdowns in the second quarter on a pair of Stephen Covalt touchdown throws with Kyle Hafemeister and Nathan Kuehl on the receiving end of those, giving Ripon a 28-7 halftime lead.
After a half hour lightning delay at halftime, Lawrence cut Ripon’s lead to 14, taking the opening drive 71 yards on six plays, culminating in a five yard touchdown pass from Barthelmess to Tyler Lueck. That would be as close as the Vikings would get the rest of the day. The ensuing possession saw Kuehl cross the goal line for a second time, finding pay dirt on a 21 yard run to cap a six-play, 63-yard drive. Later in the quarter, Ripon drove 85 yards on nine plays to extend their lead to 28 points on a one-yard plunge by Covalt. Tony Klock got into the action in the fourth quarter, plowing over the goal line for a one yard touchdown run, making the score 48-14. Lawrence added a pair of touchdowns in the final six minutes of the game, but the damage was already done.
The Red Hawks finished the game with 459 yards rushing and 7.1 yards per carry, which ranks 10th in school history for a single game. Their 567 yards of total offense is just five shy of the 10th-highest total. Covalt led the way with 107 rushing yards, to go along with 108 yards through the air. His rushing touchdown gives him 15 for the season, which is tied for fifth in school history for a single season, despite playing just seven and a half of Ripon’s 10 games this year. Langman added 95 yards on nine carries (10.6 ypc), while Klock added 82 yards on seven carries (11.7 ypc). Connor Greenwald was the fourth player on the team with at least 75 rushing yards, as he finished with 78 yards on eight carries (9.8 ypc).
“The offense did a great job today,” Ernst said. “Covalt made some good decisions all day and when the quarterback in our triple option makes good reads like he did, the offense is virtually impossible to stop.”
Defensively, Ripon recorded two sacks (Damian Farr and Brandon Latzig) and two interceptions (Dakotah Kirchenwitz and Logan Will), while also recovering two fumbles (Will and Jordan Remsza). The Red Hawks held Lawrence to just seven yards on their first 14 carries, before the Vikings were able to break off a few long runs in the final quarter.
“We tried to throw some different things at them and bring some pressure from a lot of different areas,” Ernst said. “Our defensive line got some great pressure, our linebackers ran to the ball well and we covered their receivers well, so it was a great effort on everyone’s part.”
The win gives Ripon its 19th consecutive non-losing season. The Red Hawks also finish the season ranking fourth in school history for single season rushing yards (3,047) and fifth for total offense in a single season (4,160).
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