While registering the second-highest number of rushing yards in program history, the University of Redlands football team opened Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competition with a solid 38-21 victory over Occidental College on Saturday night in Eagle Rock. With junior quarterback Kevin Russell (Lacey, WA) leading the charge in his first start with the Maroon and Gray, the Bulldogs orchestrated big offensive plays to pull away from the Tigers on the heels of two 14-point quarters.
Overall, the Bulldogs racked up 606 yards of total offense, with 424 of them coming on the ground to rank second all-time at Redlands. Thanks in great part to the success of the offensive line, Redlands gained a balanced rushing attack, with senior running back Bobby Brown (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) and sophomore running back Curtis Tanquary (San Jose, CA) both breaking the century mark at 175 and 133 yards, respectively. Furthermore, Russell connected with six different targets through the air, finding senior wide receiver Aaron Atkins (Fallbrook, CA) for a team-high 77 yards on four catches.
During the first play of the game, junior defensive back Curran Fudge(Oklahoma City, OK) stunned Oxy's special teams with his 54-yard kickoff return. This inspired the Bulldogs to march the ball down the field, setting up Tanquary's seven-yard touchdown.
Fudge went on to explode for 126 return yards on just three opportunities.
Although the Tigers answered with an equalizing score, the Maroon and Gray regained the lead early in the second quarter with a rush-dominant drive to the promise land. Brown established the Bulldogs' presence with his 53-yard carry to open the possession. Russell contributed 18 yards of his own before hitting Atkins on a 10-yard strike to the far edge of the red zone. From here, Brown found room to make his way into the end zone, giving Redlands a 14-7 lead.
The Bulldogs capitalized on more big offensive outbursts on their next scoring drive, with Tanquary, Atkins, and Irwin recording plays of 20 or more yards to cover much of the field in no time.
Although Occidental knotted the score at 21 early in the third quarter, the Bulldogs responded by securing the lead for the final time en route to the 17-point triumph. After finding Irwin on a 21-yard catch, Russell carried this one into the end zone on a two-yard scamper.
Leading 28-21, the Redlands defense came up with a big stop on Oxy's subsequent possession, forcing a three-and-out series that ended with an important tackle by junior linebacker Michael Tootle (Las Vegas, NV). By the end of the game, he had recorded five tackles and one break-up for the Maroon and Gray.
Redlands began the ensuing drive on its own 36-yard line, but Brown wasted no time by taking this one to the house with a 64-yard carry for a 35-21 lead.
The Redlands defense continued to make important stops, as senior defensive lineman Steven Locke Jr. (Barstow, CA) came up with a tackle for a loss of four yards on third and eight. He finished the night with 11 tackles, including eight solo hits. In addition, seniors Sean Woods (Victorville, CA) and Daniel Kane also made key plays as members of the defensive line.
Finally, senior kicker Kevin Grady (Seattle, WA) tacked on a field goal late in the game for the Bulldogs' 38-21 victory over Occidental.
Redlands (1-2, 1-0 SCIAC) heads to Thousand Oaks for its rival-showdown against Cal Lutheran University on Saturday at 7 p.m. Fans may follow the action through KCAA Radio, live web-streaming, and live stats. Check www.goredlands.com for the direct links to these features.