With two completely different halves determining the outcome of Saturday's premiere match-up, the No. 13 University of Redlands Bulldog football team suffered a gut-wrenching four-point loss to the No. 20 Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran University in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action. While the host school opened its multi-million dollar William Rolland Stadium for the first time, the Bulldogs reveled in the inaugural night game at CLU by jumping out to an exciting 24-0 halftime lead. However, the Kingsmen knew exactly what was riding on the result and put together drive after drive to eventually score 28 points in the second half, including the final touchdown with 16 seconds left on the clock.
With excitement pumping through their veins, the teams took to the field in front of a capacity crowd of more than 3,000 people, which included a hearty contingent from Redlands.
The Bulldogs made an immediate statement in this important game by scoring on three of their first four possessions.
The first strike came on a four-play, 49-yard drive that highlighted junior Chad Hurst's (Dixon, CA) ability to run the ball. He accounted for all but five yards of the series in just two carries.
Redlands' second touchdown came in similar fashion with sophomore running back David Woolbert (Irvine, CA) showing off his ground game on a 60-yard carry to the Kingsmen three-yard line. He finished the job on a short scamper into the end zone for the 14-0 lead with nearly seven minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
After senior defensive lineman Randall Crim (Mentone, CA) blocked CLU's ensuing punt on the Redlands 43-yard line, the Bulldogs took full advantage of their field position with another scoring drive. The team remained committed to establishing the run game against a strong pass-coverage opponent, with Hurst and junior running back Brad Crisanty (Granite Bay, CA) combining efforts to move the ball within field-goal range. Sophomore kicker Kevin Grady (Seattle, WA) booted it through the uprights from 26 yards out for the Bulldogs' 17-0 advantage by the end of the first quarter.
The Kingsmen defense tightened up in the second stanza, allowing just one seven-point play by the Bulldogs. Starting on its own 20-yard line, Redlands orchestrated an 80-yard drive that began with 2:11 on the clock. After initiating the series with Woolbert's runs of 15 and five yards, the Maroon and Gray benefited from an incredible snag by senior wide receiver Tyler Aubrey (San Diego, CA) as he hauled in a 22-yard strike near the CLU sideline. The Bulldogs continued to chip away at the distance and eventually covered 32 yards on three plays, highlighted by a 10-yard catch by senior wide receiver Mark Richardson II (Los Angeles, CA and an 11-yard grab for the score by sophomore wide receiver Taylor Irwin (Rocklin, CA).
However, that was Redlands' last time in the opposing end zone as the tables suddenly turned in the Kingsmen's favor. After being shut out for two quarters, Cal Lutheran returned the favor by erupting for 28 points in the second half while silencing the Bulldog offense.
The Kingsmen erased the bagel on the scoreboard during their opening possession of the third quarter on a 10-play, 61-yard drive.
Early in the fourth frame, CLU made it a 10-point game on an efficient drive from the Kingsmen 28-yard line. It took 11 plays but less than four minutes for them to score their second touchdown of the game.
Despite a well-timed interception by junior linebacker Justin Butler (Poway, CA) to give the ball back to Redlands and hopefully halt Cal Lutheran's momentum, the Bulldogs were unable to covert as Grady's 47-yard field goal attempt missed wide left with 11:20 remaining in the game. This was Redlands' only scoring opportunity during the second half.
CLU made it a three-point game on another impressive drive, during which senior quarterback Jake Laudenslayer found three different targets for 10 or more yards, including junior wide receiver Eric Rogers in the end zone for 15 of his 120 receiving yards on the night.
Redlands never trailed until the final scoring dagger, which came with 16 seconds left in the game. After senior punter Wes Norris (San Jose, CA) pinned the Kingsmen at their own two-yard line, Laudenslayer continued his hot streak with pass completions of 22, 19, and 16 yards before eventually scoring on a quarterback sneak to win the game. He finished the night with 313 yards on 25 completions, many of which came during the second half.
For the Bulldogs, Hurst finished with only 133 yards passing on 11 completions. He added a team-high 109 yards rushing, including one score. Aubrey and Irwin served as his top receivers with four catches each for 57 and 42 yards, respectively.
Defensively, Butler and junior linebacker Jordan Garcia (Carlsbad, CA) combined forces to lead the Maroon and Gray with eight total tackles apiece. In addition to his interception, Butler recorded one sack for a loss of five yards.
Redlands (2-1, 0-1 SCIAC) faces Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in a SCIAC game on Saturday, Oct. 8, at 7 p.m. in Ted Runner Stadium. Fans are invited to join the Bulldogs for Take a Kid to the Game® Night, in which all children and those accompanied by children receive free admission. In addition, kids are invited to participate in fun, football activities on field at halftime.