The No. 18/19 University of Redlands football team opened Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competition in Ted Runner Stadium on Saturday with a 38-17 victory over the visiting Sagehens of Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. The Bulldogs broke open a 10-all tie with persistent play on both sides of the ball while racking up more than 500 yards of total offense and snagging three picks.
"I'm proud of our guys. We kept fighting. We were able to battle through some difficult situations," commented Head Coach Mike Maynard.
Senior defensive back Vincent Vanhorne (Henderson, NV) halted the Sagehens' opening drive by hauling in an interception and returning it 11 yards to the visitor 43-yard line. This immediately set up the Maroon and Gray's first scoring drive, which included completions by junior quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA) to four different receivers. He found senior tight Blake Roy (Camas, CA) on an 11-yard strike into the end zone before senior kicker/punter Alex Raya (Jamul, CA) split the uprights for the Bulldogs' 7-0 lead.
After the teams traded field goals, Pomona-Pitzer managed to even the score with a touchdown early in the second quarter.
Late in the same stanza, Redlands regained the lead on a 10-play, 63-yard drive that included big yards by sophomore running back Kai Thompson (Murrieta, CA) as well as a Pomona-Pitzer holding penalty for a first down. Martinez found junior wide receiver Noah McFadden (Puyallup, WA) on a 14-yard touchdown reception for the Bulldogs' 17-10 advantage.
On the Sagehens' first drive of the third quarter, senior defensive back Chad Virgil (Menifee, CA) hauled in an interception to stymie the opponents' efforts. Redlands took full advantage by moving the chains for another touchdown. This time, first-year running back Mason Carvalho (Menifee, CA) came up with gritty gains before Martinez sauntered into the end zone.
The fourth quarter saw two more touchdowns for the Bulldogs, as Martinez connected with junior wide receiver Kai Kang (Sammamish, WA) for 34 yards and then found Roy for a five-yard reception. The Redlands defense forced a three-and-out to set up the first of these two scores, while junior wide receiver Khory Day's (Fresno, CA) 26-yard punt return initiated the other.
Although Pomona-Pitzer scored a late touchdown, Redlands had the win well in hand.
Admittedly, the Bulldogs struggled with penalties but minimized their effect.
"We want our guys to play with an edge and sometimes you try so hard that you overdo it and you make some penalties. We have to learn how to play better within ourselves and not fall into the trap of penalties," stated Maynard.
Overall, Redlands earned 28 first downs en route to 508 yards of total offense. Martinez went 29-of-42 for 320 yards and four touchdowns. He spread the wealth among the receiving corps with 10 different players recording at least one catch. McFadden led the team with 65 yards off four receptions, while Roy hauled in six catches for 61 yards. Carvalho finished with a team-leading 99 rushing yards on 21 carries.
Defensively, Redlands limited a potentially potent Pomona-Pitzer offense to 315 yards, including only 42 on the ground.
"We didn't give up much on the run, so we credit our front seven for that," Maynard said.
Virgil led the Maroon and Gray with eight tackles, while senior defensive back Jeff Hector (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA) recorded six. Vanhorne, sophomore linebacker Joe Bennett (San Diego, CA), and junior linebacker Jermaine Calhoun Jr. (Oceanside, CA) each tallied five stops.
Raya connected on a 48-yard field goal and was perfect on extra points. He also averaged 50 yards per punt and 64 yards per kickoff.
"We didn't get frustrated and we didn't quit. We were able to pull away in the second half," Maynard said. "We created some momentum to build off of next week."
The Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0 SCIAC) head to Chapman University on Saturday, October 12, for a 7 p.m. kickoff against the Panthers.