RIPON -- After a half of finesse football resulted in a four-point halftime deficit, Central Catholic High School got back to basics.
For the Raiders, it meant a steady dose of the Ray and Rey show was headed Ripon's direction.
Central's backfield tandem of Rey Vega and Ray Lomas tore through the Indians for 350 rushing yards, including 241 in the second half, as the Raiders pulled away to a 40-21 victory at Stouffer Field.
"At halftime we decided to go back to what got us here, so all we did was run the ball," said Central coach Roger Canepa. "Power, power, power. Nothing against Ripon, but I thought we were better and I thought we had the weapons, so we decided to lean on them."
The Raiders' definition of "leaning" is to run the ball straight ahead behind a big and talented offensive line. Central, which trailed 21-17 at halftime, ran 22 plays in the second half. One was a sweep and the other 21 were runs between the tackles.
"We knew they were 11-0 and that we were going to have to work hard, because no one goes 11-0 by being lucky," said Vega, who had 230 yards on 17 carries and scored on runs of 5, 74 and 76 yards. "We had a couple mistakes in the first half, but we got so pumped up at halftime, and we just came out ready to go to work."
The Raiders (10-2) advanced to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 4 semifinals for the third time in the last four years as they aim to claim their first blue banner since 2007. Central will host Center of Antelope, while Escalon meets Los Banos in the other semifinal.
Ripon, which was looking to extend its best season in 29 years, spotted the Raiders a 17-0 lead in the first quarter by committing three turnovers, all of which became points.
But just when the Indians appeared a play or two from being counted out, they rebounded to score on three straight possessions.
Kyle Wengel, who completed 12 of 18 passes for 227 yards, hit Anthony Baciocco for a 60-yard score and Michael Morris from 10 yards out, then Josh McCreath broke off a 55-yard run for a 21-17 Ripon lead.
"We tried too much fancy stuff, and Ripon got back in it," said Canepa, whose passing game was ineffective, producing only 38 yards. "I didn't do a good job in the first half, then in the second half we went Ray and Rey."
Vega broke off a 74-yard scoring run the first time he touched the ball in the third quarter, giving the Raiders the lead for good. They added two points on a safety, then Lomas capped the ensuing short-field possession with a 27-yard score for a 33-21 lead less than halfway through the third quarter.
"Our kids fight," said Ripon coach Chris Johnson. "They're going to play hard and they gave everything they had. Look at the size difference tonight, and we knew we had to play perfect if we were going to have a chance to win this game.
"You can't turn over the ball four times and expect to win, and then you have to hold your breath every time Vega touches the ball."
Vega iced the victory with a 76-yard sprint on the second play of the fourth quarter, running away from a weary group of Indians.
"It was a good season," Johnson said. "These kids put Ripon back on the football map and they set a new standard."