The University of Redlands football team made the most of its trip to Newberg, Oregon, by capturing a 35-19 victory against the George Fox University (OR) Bruins in Saturday afternoon's season-opener. In the five meetings between these teams, this is the first to go in favor of the visitors, allowing the Bulldogs to return home with an impressive road win.
"We executed really well. Things went according to plan," Head Coach Mike Maynard commented.
Redlands came out firing in the first half and quickly gained a 21-0 lead. Despite a three-and-out drive to start the first quarter, the Maroon and Gray moved the ball downfield for three touchdowns on its subsequent three possessions. First, senior wide receiver David Molina (Laguna Hills, CA) reeled in a five-yard pass by leaping into the air in the corner of the end zone and finding a way to land in-bounds for the miraculous score. Senior kicker Alex Raya (Jamul, CA) split the uprights to make it 7-0 with 6:21 left in the first quarter.
A huge, 11-yard sack by sophomore defensive lineman Jake Baillie (Woodinville, WA) and sophomore linebacker Joe Bennett (San Diego, CA) forced GFU to punt on its second possession, which set up the Bulldogs' 13-play, 82-yard scoring drive. Junior quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA) found junior wide receiver Jacob Huff (San Juan Capistrano, CA) in the end zone on a four-yard strike to make it 14-0.
Another defensive stand by the Bulldogs put their offense back on the field, with sophomore running back Kai Thompson (Murrieta, CA) and junior wide receiver Khory Day (Fresno, CA) picking up key yardage en route to the Maroon and Gray's third touchdown. Thompson entered the end zone on a one-yard jaunt to finish the first half with a 21-0 Bulldog advantage.
However, George Fox rallied for back-to-back scores by the end of the third quarter to make it a one-score game.
"We gave up some big plays but we have to credit their offense for getting those done," Maynard added.
Nonetheless, the Bulldogs kept their composure and answered with seven more points early in the fourth. This time, Martinez connected with senior tight end Blake Roy (Camas, WA) on an eight-yard catch for Redlands' 28-13 lead.
The teams traded touchdowns in the final minutes, but Redlands' hard-fought victory was well in hand.
"We are really happy with the way our offense executed and used the clock so well."
Overall, the Bulldogs controlled possession for more than 40 minutes of the game, racked up 407 yards of total offense, and had zero turnovers. The Maroon and Gray also went 5-for-5 in the red zone and converted 71% of its third downs.
Redlands posted 205 net yards passing and 202 net yards rushing for a balanced and effective attack, thanks in part to the success of the offensive line that included junior Matt Oss (Sammamish, WA) and senior Joey Caffaro (Jackson Hole, WY), among others.
Defensively, Redlands halted the Bruins' run game and forced them into a one-dimensional offense. GFU mustered only 43 yards on the ground and gave up four sacks. Leading the charge for the Bulldogs, junior linebacker Matthew Betancourt (San Bernardino, CA) tallied eight tackles, while Bennett, junior defensive lineman Solomon Iosefa (Riverside, CA), and junior linebackers Jermaine Calhoun Jr. (Oceanside, CA) and Noah Widgins (San Jacinto, CA) shined.
"This is a great first win (of the season) against a quality opponent," Maynard stated.
Redlands (1-0) competes at home for the first time this season on Saturday, September 14, when it hosts the University of Puget Sound (WA) in a 7 p.m. showdown in Ted Runner Stadium.