Redlands Football Wins SCIAC Title Outright with 70-16 Pummeling of Poets
The University of Redlands football team secured an undefeated Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) season with Saturday's 70-16 rout of Whittier College, winning sole possession of the program's 29th title in the process. In addition to the first championship since 2007, this marks the team's first undefeated SCIAC season since 2002.
After celebrating their 31 seniors with a short pregame ceremony, the Bulldogs benefitted from multiple explosive plays on both sides of the ball, revealing the team's incredible tenacity and talent. Redlands poured on 28 points in the opening quarter and then cruised to victory while utilizing much of its roster for a total-team victory.
During that opening frame, junior defensive back DJ Dawson Jr. (Vallejo, CA) picked off the Whittier quarterback on third-and-six for excellent field position at the Poet 25-yard line. From here, the Bulldogs took advantage of opportunity with a one-play score, as junior quarterback Kevin Russell(Lacey, WA) connected with senior wide receiver Taylor Irwin (Rocklin, CA) on a scoring strike into the corner of the Poet end zone with 10:47 remaining.
The Bulldog defense continued to impress with a three-and-out series, forcing the Poets to punt on their ensuing drive. Again, the Maroon and Gray executed with successful efficiency, with senior running back Bobby Brown (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) running the ball 11 yards before finding incredible space on a 53-yard carry to the house.
Two Poet possessions later, Redlands' special teams came up with a big play, as junior defensive back Curran Fudge (Oklahoma City, OK) blocked Whittier's punt on the 11-yard line, before freshman defensive back Steven Best (Yucaipa, CA) pounced on it for a touchdown.
Finally, the Maroon and Gray capped off the outstanding first frame with another explosive run by Brown, this one coming untouched on a 65-yard carry to the house.
The Bulldogs continued to roll, tacking on 28 more points in the second quarter to go into the locker room with a 56-0 advantage. During this stretch, sophomore running back Curtis Tanquary (Sam Jose, CA) and Brown both scored on the ground, bookending a 21-yard fumble return for Redlands' senior defensive back Jessie Hobbs III. Senior wide receiverSam Angelo (Woodinville, WA) finished the Bulldogs' first half on another high note by hauling in a 22-yard strike from Russell.
With the 56-0 halftime lead, the Redlands defense recorded its sixth shutout quarter in a row, dating back to the start of the team's last game against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on Nov. 9.
The second half saw a multitude of Bulldogs take the field, with a pair of new faces from the game scoring touchdowns for Redlands. Senior wide receiver Tyler Bassler (San Diego, CA) snagged a 20-yard reception from sophomore quarterback Alex Bridgford (Mission Viejo, CA0, while senior tight end Will King (Scottsdale, AZ) added to the offensive explosion with a 10-yard strike of his own, this one arriving from sophomore quarterback Mitch Samson (Orangevale, CA).
Late in the fourth quarter, the Bulldog defense pushed back the Poets on fourth-and-one, with freshman linebacker Alex Lowes (Redlands, CA) and Hobbs getting in on the action for a tackle for a loss.
The Bulldog kicking game provided flawless contributions, converting all 10 point-after-tries during the game. Senior kicker Kevin Grady (Seattle, WA) led the effort by firing off nine, while sophomore kicker Brandon Rominger (Santa Paula, CA) split the uprights on one. In addition, sophomore Christian Dirksen (Ontario, CA) excelled on punting, averaging 47.7 yards per attempt.
As a team, Redlands converted 22 first downs for 499 yards of total offense. Brown finished the first half with 131 yards on the ground on just five attempts for three touchdowns. He spoke about his big run of the game as well as the meaning of winning the SCIAC title in his senior season.
Defensively, senior defensive lineman Sean Woods (Victorville, CA) led the Maroon and Gray with eight hits, including five solo tackles and two-and-a-half sacks for a loss of eight yards. Redlands forced six Poet fumbles and recovered three of them, with junior linebacker Michael Tootle(Las Vegas, NV), senior linebacker Justin Butler (Poway, CA), and Hobbs coming up with these big takeaways.
Redlands (7-2, 7-0 SCIAC) now looks forward to competing in the NCAA Division III Football Championships as the automatic qualifier from the SCIAC. The announcement as to whom and when the Bulldogs play will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday. Stay tuned to www.goredlands.com for details or visit http://www.ncaa.com/sports/football/d3