The University of Redlands football team squared off against the visiting Poets of Whittier College during Saturday's Senior Night in Ted Runner Stadium. After recognizing 27 Bulldogs in their final season, the Maroon and Gray left no doubt in a recording-breaking, 76-7 victory in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action. While lighting up the scoreboard with the most points in school history, Redlands also held the Poets scoreless until late in the fourth quarter with an impressive defensive effort. Overall, the final home game of the regular season proved to be a roaring success for the Maroon and Gray, which utilized the majority of its large roster in a total-team effort.
Redlands also racked up 666 yards of total offense for 34 first downs on 70 offensive plays. The team averaged 9.1 yards per play, thanks to the outstanding efforts of the Bulldogs' offensive line.
Whittier's opening drive was cut short with an interception by senior linebacker Mitch Shepherd (Seattle, WA), which allowed Redlands to immediately march downfield for the score on an efficient four-play possession. After junior quarterback Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA) completed a pair of first-down strikes, junior running back Conner Kennedy(Olympia, WA) moved the chains on a 13-yard jaunt before tumbling into the end zone for a one-yard touchdown.
Redlands earned touchdowns on its subsequent two drives, with Plante finding senior running back Bryce Broadwell(Henderson, NV) on a four-yard gain before Kennedy broke through on an eight-yard carry to quickly make it 21-0.
The defensive prowess of the Maroon and Gray remained on display throughout the first half, with Whittier hardly gaining an inch on offense. When the opponents attempted a 30-yard field goal, sophomore defensive lineman Elias Hackney (Santa Monica, CA) got a hand on the ball to keep the Poets off the board. During Whittier's next drive, big stops by senior defensive back Dustin Nascimento (Aiea, HI), junior defensive lineman Joe Munroe (Costa Mesa, CA), freshman defensive back Marvin Perkins Jr., and various others minimized the visitors' forward progress and forced them to go for it on fourth-and-20. Due to the team's stellar coverage, that pass was incomplete and put Redlands right back on the offensive.
Redlands closed out the half with two more touchdowns, as senior wide receiver Alex Andrighetto (Portola Valley, CA) hauled in an impressive catch in the corner of the end zone before senior wide receiver Cole Blackburn (Sammamish, WA) sliced and diced his way in for the touchdown on a 33-yard reception.
On Whittier's final drive of the half, senior defensive back Daniel Gonzales (Mentone, CA) kept the Poets off the board by hauling in his ninth interception of the season, with this one coming in the end zone to eliminate the potential touchdown. Redlands entered the locker room with a hefty advantage at 35-0.
With new players rotating throughout the field, the Bulldogs continued to execute at a high level in all directions during the second half. Freshman quarterback Nathan Martinez (Highland, CA) took over the play-calling duties and fired off touchdown passes to Andrighetto and junior wide receiver Xavier Villanueva (Peoria, AZ) for Redlands' 49-0 advantage. Junior running back Camryn Davis (Rancho Cucamonga, CA) joined the party with a hard-fought, one-yard carry on the Maroon and Gray's third scoring drive of the third quarter. In addition, senior wide receiver Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA) found space behind outstanding blocking on a 79-yard punt return for a touchdown to cap off a lucrative scoring stretch that put Redlands up by a score of 63-0.
The fourth quarter included field goals by sophomore kickers Alexander Raya (Jamul, CA) and Joey Mendoza (Rancho Cucamonga, CA), as well as a three-yard rushing touchdown by senior quarterback Mitch Kidd (Salinas, CA).
Finally, junior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) and Raya combined for a perfect 10-for-10 performance on PATs.
Overall, Plante converted 12-of-17 passes for 217 yards, while Martinez was 7-for-10 for 67 yards. Kidd and freshman quarterback Sonny Robison (Minden, NV) also took snaps under center in the win. Junior running back Josiah Alvira (Danville, CA) provided critical yards on the ground with eight carries for 86 yards, including a long of 25. Junior running back Nathaniel Nguyen-Barkus (Novato, CA) and sophomore running back Dalton Lohman (San Clemente, CA) also stepped up as effective ball-carriers. Blackburn served as the primary target with seven catches for 105 yards in a stellar showing.
Perkins paced the defense with eight total tackles, while Nascimento and Shepherd each recorded seven.
Redlands (6-2, 4-1 SCIAC) heads to Cal Lutheran University on Saturday, November 11, for the annual Smudge Pot game against the Kingsmen. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m.