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Ripley overcomes Wildcats, Clark

By Mike Ruben

Ripley survived a heavy dose of Ethan Clark in a 39-22 win over Nitro on Friday at Underwood Field.

Both teams showed balanced attacks, but with very different strategies.

For Ripley, it was a mix of 192 yards rushing and 172 yards passing. For Nitro, however, mixing it up only meant whether it was going to be Ethan Clark, by pass or by run.

The junior quarterback threw 260 yards while rushing for 86. In fact, Clark either threw or rushed on 69 of Nitro's 73 offensive plays.

After allowing 78 points a week ago in a loss at Hurricane, Coach John Painter said it was time to bank on his most talented player.

"We're very young and inexperienced," Painter said. "The kids were really down after that loss. I knew we had to ride somebody. He's our best athlete and I wanted to put the ball in his hands."

That he did.

Clark actually gained 151 yards on the ground, but was stopped for 65 yards in losses for a net of 86 on 34 carries. The only other rushing attempt for the Wildcats resulted in a 6-yard loss. Meanwhile, he put up J.R. House-like passing numbers, completing 19 of 35 attempts for 260 yards and three scores. The Viking defense got to him for eight sacks for minus 50 yards.

Clark spread his tosses among four receivers. Dylan Jaggie had six catches for 107 yards and one score. Ryan Booker caught seven for 73 yards and two TDs. Karson Williams had five receptions for 64 yards and J.D. Bush two for 27. He was picked off once in the end zone.

Sidelined briefly for a minor injury during the third quarter, Chris Moody stepped in to complete one of three passing attempts for 11 yards.

Clark added a 41-yard kickoff return and a 10-yard punt return to account for 397 all-purpose yards. He also tossed a pair of 2-point conversions and chased down a Ripley receiver for a touchdown-saving tackle at the 1-yard line.

"Wow," Ripley coach Jimmy Frashier said of Clark's performance. "He was either running it or throwing it on every play. He's an athlete and he puts you in some situations defensively."

Ripley's running game was led by David Hicks with 82 yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns. Taryn Matheny covered 69 yards on 12 attempts.

Tyler Casto completed 5 of 9 passes and two scores. Anthony Michael had three catches for 106 yards and both touchdowns. Nate Donohew had a 56-yard reception.

"I'm tickled to get the win," Frashier said. "It's really what we needed. We had to overcome some things this week, but we had a good week of practice and played hard."


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