While holding Chapman University to its lowest scoring effort of the season, the University of Redlands football team fired off 14 unanswered points during the second half to secure a 21-17 victory over the Panthers on Saturday night in Orange. With the victory, the Bulldogs move into sole possession of first place in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) standings with three games to play. In addition, Redlands captures its seventh consecutive triumph over Chapman (5-1, 3-1 SCIAC), which drops its first loss of the 2013 season in the process.
Redlands initiated the scoring on its opening possession, with junior quarterback Kevin Russell (Lacey, WA) leading the Maroon and Gray down the field on a 14-play, 75-yard drive for the score. Among the highlights of this first opportunity, senior running back Bobby Brown (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) erupted for his longest carry of the night, coming at 18 yards on first-and-10 to the Chapman 33-yard line. In addition, Russell scrambled for his own game-best showing of 14 yards for the first down at the 21. Four plays later, Brown broke through for the Bulldogs' first touchdown of the game with 8:15 remaining in the first.
However, the Panthers found their offensive rhythm to eventually earn a 17-7 advantage with 5:05 left in the third stanza.
Relentless and determined, the Bulldogs continued to battle on defense with senior linebacker Trevor Manly (Diamond Bar, CA) and a trio of senior defensive linemen in Steven Locke Jr. (Barstow, CA), Daniel Kane(Covina, CA), and Sean Woods (Victorville, CA) spearheading the effort.
At the same time, Redlands' offense took its game to the next level. Late in the third stanza, Russell orchestrated an effective 79-yard drive to the house on 12 plays. Among them, he elevated the Maroon and Gray's passing game by completing seven of eight attempts while connecting with three different receivers. Each target hauled in big catches of 10 or more yards, beginning with a 19-yard strike to senior wide receiver Aaron Atkins (Fallbrook, CA) and ending with a 13-yard toss to senior wide receiver Taylor Irwin (Rocklin, CA). During the middle portion of the drive, Russell found junior wide receiver James Ramirez (La Verne, CA) on three occasions for a total of 29 yards. The exciting drive came to an end with Brown's two-yard scamper into the end zone, marking his fourth touchdown of the season.
Down by three with plenty of time left, the Maroon and Gray continued its fierce defense by forcing a three-and-out showing on Chapman's ensuing possession.
Another impressive defensive play of the fourth quarter came on the Panthers' subsequent drive when junior defensive back DJ Dawson Jr. (Atwater, CA) unleashed a huge tackle-for-a-loss of nine yards on third-and-11, compelling the home team to punt the ball again.
The Bulldogs took full advantage of their resulting possession with just over seven minutes to go. The first play of the drive included a well-timed, personal-foul call for the Panthers, giving Redlands first down on its own 38-yard line. After Russell scrambled out of pressure, he uncorked a 47-yard bomb to sophomore wide receiver Steven Herber (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) to the Chapman 15. The Maroon and Gray kept moving the ball until sophomore running back Curtis Tanquary (San Jose, CA) took this one into the end zone for the eventual winning touchdown.
But with 4:43 remaining, the game was far from over. The Bulldog defense stepped up once again, making important plays, especially on fourth-and-seven, when sophomore defensive back Connor Hoffman (Tustin, CA) picked off Panther quarterback Michael Lahey for the only turnover of the game.
The teams finished out the night with one more drive each, but excellent clock management and sharp defense left the Maroon and Gray out in front for the emotional victory.
Russell finished the night 15-of-25 for 170 yards while connecting with five different receivers. Herber led the crew by wrangling 62 yards through the air. The Bulldogs amassed 129 yards on the ground, with a fairly even distribution of yardage between Russell, Brown, and Tanquary.
Defensively, senior defensive back Brandon Morris (Mission Viejo, CA) and Dawson led the Maroon and Gray, registering six solo hits apiece.
The Bulldogs (4-2, 4-0 SCIAC) head to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Sat., Nov. 2, for a 1 p.m. SCIAC game against the Stags.