Following the festivities of "Rah Rah Redlands," the University of Redlands football team opened the 2013 season against No. 3 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX) in Ted Runner Stadium on Saturday night. Although senior wide receiver Taylor Irwin (Rocklin, CA) hauled in a 99-yard reception in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs fell to the Crusaders by a score of 13-31.
With UMHB moving the ball at the end of the third stanza, the Bulldog defense came up with a huge play on first-and-goal to start the final frame. Senior defensive lineman Steven Locke Jr. (Barstow, CA) forced a UMHB fumble, which was then recovered by senior defensive back Nick Kido(Honolulu, HI) on the Maroon and Gray's own one-yard line. This set up an incredible downfield play by sophomore quarterback Mitch Samson(Orangevale, CA), who found Irwin around the 35-yard line. With the defense on his heels, Irwin pulled away and dodged a diving attempt to tackle him before entering the Crusader end zone for the exciting score.
Locke's forced fumble was one of three Bulldog red-zone stands in the second half. In addition, senior defensive backs Brandon Morris (Mission Viejo, CA) and Clayton Dobbs (Oakland, CA) both came up with big picks to halt the Crusaders' scoring chances. Morris, who led the team last year in this category, also ran his grab back for 24 yards.
Earlier in the game, senior All-American kicker Kevin Grady (Seattle, WA) took care of business with two made field-goals for the Bulldogs' first-half scoring.
Defensively, junior linebacker Michael Tootle (Las Vegas, NV) impressed with 15 tackles, including two for a loss of seven yards. Senior linebackerJustin Butler (Poway, CA) returned to action after a medical hardship in 2012, tallying 13 tackles for the Maroon and Gray. In addition to his forced fumble, Locke appeared to be everywhere, with nine tackles, two break-ups, and a pair of quarterback-hurries.
Irwin finished as the team's leading receiver at 165 yards on nine catches to go along with 87 kick-return yards. While making his first collegiate start, Samson was 19-for-35 for 273 yards.
Mary Hardin-Baylor's rushing attack proved effective with four different players recording touchdowns. Elijah Hudson carried the bulk of the load with 32 carries and 184 yards.
Redlands (0-1) enjoys a bye week of preparation before heading to No. 13 Pacific Lutheran University (WA) for a 12:30 p.m. showdown with the Lutes on Sept. 21.