The University of Redlands football team celebrated Homecoming on Saturday night with a solid 42-20 win over the visiting Pomona-Pitzer Colleges Sagehens. The Bulldogs built an early lead with 35 first-half points while minimizing the visitors' chances with outstanding defense that allowed just 25 yards on the ground.
The Maroon and Gray successfully drove the ball in the first half by converting six third downs and finishing drives, with junior quarterback Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA) leading the charge.
The Bulldogs' opening score came on an efficient five-play, 52-yard drive that culminated in a 10-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Jacob Huff (San Juan Capistrano, CA). Sophomore tight end Blake Roy's (Washougal, WA) 18-yard catch and junior running back Conner Kennedy's (Olympia, WA) 11-yard scamper set the tone early in this possession.
Redlands continued to establish the pace of play by halting the Sagehens' subsequent drive, with junior defensive lineman Joe Munroe (Costa Mesa, CA) and junior linebacker Pete Riccolo (Morris, IL) pressuring the quarterback into ill-timed passes. On fourth and 10, Pomona-Pitzer punted the ball away.
Over the course of its next 15 plays, the Maroon and Gray kept moving the chains, including on four third-down conversions. Plante stayed cool in the pocket and twice found senior wide receiver Cole Blackburn (Sammamish, WA), connected with senior wide receiver Alex Andrighetto (Portola Valley, CA), and took advantage of great blocking on an open lane for first downs. After Redlands entered the promised land on a short pass to senior wide receiver Kyle Kabeary (Indo, CA), junior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) successfully split the uprights on the PAT for the Bulldogs' 14-0 lead.
Although the Sagehens took advantage of a pick-six, Redlands came right back with three more touchdowns on its next three possessions. Plante continued to take advantage of space on the field by rushing for all three scores en route to carries of 43, 16, and 26 yards. But he could not have done this without critical gains by junior running back Josiah Alvira (Danville, CA), Kennedy, and Kabeary, as well as the relentless efforts of the offensive line.
Now leading 35-7 at the start of the third quarter, Redlands continued to stymie the Sagehens' offense, especially in the run game, with outstanding contributions by senior linebacker Mitch Shepherd (Seattle, WA), junior linebacker Nick Castro (La Verne, CA), senior defensive back Daniel Gonzales (Mentone, CA), and Munroe.
Pomona-Pitzer put up a touchdown late in the third quarter, but sophomore defensive back PJ Wilson (Modesto, CA) managed to get a hand on the PAT to hold the opponents to 13 points.
The teams traded scores in the fourth quarter, with Plante earning his fourth rushing score of the game for the impressive 42-20 Bulldog victory. Overall, the Redlands defense remained diligent in minimizing any momentum from the Sagehens, as Shepherd, Castro, Gonzales, and freshman defensive back Marvin Perkins Jr. (Las Vegas, NC) seemed to be everywhere on the field.
With strong support on Special Teams, Hierlihy finished the night with six PATs, averaged 44.7 yards per punt and 62 yards per kick-off.
Plante racked up 206 passing yards on 17 completions for two touchdowns while carrying the ball 15 times for 154 yards and four touchdowns. Kabeary hauled in seven catches for 73 yards, as Blackburn pulled in five receptions for 75 yards.
Shepherd paced the Bulldogs with 10 tackles, while Munroe finished the night with five quarterback hurries.
Redlands (5-2, 3-1 SCIAC) looks forward to hosting Whittier College for Senior Night on Saturday, November 4, at 7 p.m.