WHITTIER, Calif. – Redlands showed why it has the top ranked defense in the conference as it limited the Poets to just 196 yards of offense in a 26-14 loss on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.
Despite the offensive struggles, Whittier (2-6, 1-4 SCIAC) didn't go quietly. It played the Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 SCIAC) to a 7-7 halftime tie and only trailed 19-14 with 12 minutes left in regulation.
At the 13:28 mark of the fourth frame, Redlands forced a Whittier punt and took over on its own 20-yard line with a chance to add to its 19-7 lead. The Poets' defense stood its ground and on 3rd and 14 forced a Dan Selway interception.
John O'Malley picked off the pass in the middle of the field and returned it 30 yards to the Redlands 1-yard line. Whittier's offense capitalized on the next play as Rodrigo Muratalla punched it in to close the gap to 19-14.
After the ensuing kick-off Redlands took over at its own 40-yard line. A penalty and two rushes for a combined eight yards set-up a 3rd and 7 from their own 43. Whittier blitzed Selway who floated a ball down the middle of the field towards his tight end. The ball fell to the turf but the officials flagged the Poets for pass interference.
The penalty extended the Bulldog drive which eventually turned into seven points. Redlands chewed 4:38 of the clock on its 60-yard, eight play, drive.
Whittier had two more possession but couldn't sustain a drive.
O'Malley finished with a game-high 13 tackles, which includes 2.0 for a loss of 17 yards. He added one pass break-up and the lone interception for the purple and gold.
As a unit, the defense combined for 4.0 sacks for a loss of 31 yards. Whittier had a total of 8.0 tackles for loss for 57 yards.
Anthony Bennett was challenged by Selway early and he answered the call. The junior corner had a game-high three pass break-ups and five tackles.
Redlands averaged just 2.8 yards per rush.
Offensively for the purple and gold, Muratalla had a team-high 57 yards rushing. Kimble Tillman was held to just 46 yards but he added 53 yards through the air.
The Bulldog defense bottled-up Tillman for all but a 50-yard touchdown run that tied the score at 7-7 midway through the second quarter.
Alesana Sausau completed 5-of-22 passes for 89 yards and one interception.
The Poets will conclude its season next Saturday afternoon as it plays host to La Verne at 1 pm.