The University of Redlands football team rallied for a 26-14 victory over Whittier College on Saturday as the Bulldogs relied on the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (SCIAC) top-ranked defense to step up with crucial plays while holding off a pesky Poet squad. The Maroon and Gray broke a 7-7 halftime tie with 12 points in the third quarter while adding another touchdown in the fourth en route to its fifth conference win.
After neither team found the end zone in the opening stanza, the opponents traded touchdowns during the second quarter to create a knotted score at the break. Redlands' senior quarterback Dan Selway (Villa Park, CA) connected with freshman wide receiver Taylor Irwin (Rocklin, CA), who broke through the Poet end zone on a 14-yard strike with 8:05 left in the half.
Whittier quickly answered by capitalizing on a 35-yard kickoff return by sophomore defensive back Alex Mitchell to the Poet 45-yard line. Two plays later, sophomore running back Kimble Tillman blew past the Bulldog defense for 50 yards into the end zone, evening the game at seven apiece.
After a rousing halftime meeting, Redlands took advantage of good field position after a 32-yard punt by the Poets that led to an 18-yard return by senior defensive back Mike Nicolini (Novato, CA) to the Whittier 22. On first and goal, Selway found graduate student wide receiver Evan Reuter (Cameron Park, CA) for a nine-yard touchdown completion with 6:32 remaining in the third frame. After the missed point-after try, the Bulldogs held a slight lead at 13-7.
The Maroon and Gray defense forced another punt by Whittier after four plays, with this one going a mere 17 yards to the UR 44-yard line where it was downed. Selway hit Irwin on a 15-yard pass for the first down and eventually hit him again for 21 yards on fourth and eight. On the Poet 13-yard line, the Bulldogs converted the touchdown with Irwin making a 13-yard grab near the end of the quarter. Redlands attempted to make up for the missed PAT with a rush attempt but could not penetrate the goal line.
Whittier refused to go away and rallied for a touchdown after junior defensive back John O'Malley intercepted a Selway pass and ran it back to Bulldog one-yard line. One play later, the Poets made it an eventual pick-six play to make it a 19-14 game with 12:04 left in the game.
On its ensuing possession, Redlands minimized the damage by marching down field for 60 yards on eight plays and the touchdown. During this stretch, three different ball carriers contributed to the team's movement, including 17 yards and the score by sophomore running back Brad Crisanty (Granite Bay, CA).
With a 26-14 lead and less than five minutes to go, the Bulldog defense continued to pressure the Poet offense, forcing them to punt an eighth time on its next drive.
Whittier managed to move the ball 44 yards on eight plays during its final push toward the end zone but fell short at the Bulldog 39-yard line with just over two minutes remaining.
Overall, Redlands racked up 26 first downs, compared to the Poets' nine. In addition, the Bulldogs rallied for 359 yards of total offense while Whittier mustered only 196.
Selway completed 21 of his 35 passes, earning 252 yards and three touchdowns. Irwin proved to be his top target with 102 yards on nine catches. Reuter also provided a solid performance with 81 yards on seven receptions.
Crisanty led the ball carriers with 109 yards on 23 attempts, including a long of 16.
Senior defensive back Rudy Vidales (Los Angeles, CA) led the defense with eight total tackles while providing an interception for a 30-yard return late in the second quarter. Nicolini posted two tackles for a loss of 19 yards to go along with his four punt returns for 50 yards and a kickoff return for 28 yards.
Redlands (7-1, 5-1 SCIAC) looks forward to Senior Day at Ted Runner Stadium on Nov. 13 against the Panthers of Chapman University in non-conference bout at 1 p.m.