The University of Redlands football team showed up in a big way on Saturday night to prevail over the No. 11 Linfield College (OR) Wildcats in a 27-19 decision during Take a Kid to the Game Night in Ted Runner Stadium. Not only did the Bulldogs defeat the Wildcats for the first time, but they captured Head Coach Mike Maynard's 200th career win.
The Maroon and Gray scored first with a 46-yard field goal from senior kicker Alex Raya (Jamul, CA) early in the opening quarter and never relinquished the lead in a gritty and intense battle.
On Linfield's first drive of the second quarter, the Bulldog defense came up big to force a fumble and put Redlands' offense back on the field with great field position. Junior quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA) quickly found senior wide receiver Mitchell Nickovich (Mission Viejo, CA) on a 17-yard touchdown strike to extend the home team's lead to 10-0.
However, the Wildcats responded with a lucrative scoring drive that covered 75 yards. Regardless, senior defensive lineman Elias Hackney (Santa Monica, CA) blocked the ensuing PAT to limit Linfield to only six points.
Over the next few minutes, the Bulldogs persistently pounded out yards and first downs, with first-year running back Mason Carvalho (Menifee, CA) making big plays. His biggest gain of the 13-play drive came on second and five at Redlands' 41-yard line, where he muscled his way for 19 yards. Martinez came up with a 14-yard scamper, which positioned Carvalho for the one-yard touchdown three plays later.
The Bulldog defense halted the Wildcats on their subsequent drive with a huge sack by Hackney on third and seven.
Redlands' final possession of the half moved it to the three-yard line but came up short as time expired. Nonetheless, the Bulldogs held a 17-6 halftime lead over the 11th-ranked Wildcats, as the teams entered the locker rooms.
The third quarter was plagued with penalties and tough plays, but Redlands continued to find ways to put up points, including a 29-yard field goal.
Early in the fourth, the Bulldogs' special teams came up with a highlight-reel performance, as junior wide receiver Noah McFadden (Puyallup, WA) blocked a punt, which was recovered by junior defensive back Braxton Taylor (Sylmar, CA) and returned 13 yards for a touchdown.
Despite Linfield putting up late points, the Maroon and Gray managed the clock and its field position, with Carvalho coming up with a huge third-and-30 jaunt for 29 yards. Linfield was called for 12 men on the field on fourth down, which moved the chains one final time for Redlands to secure the hard-fought win.
Overall, Redlands controlled the time of possession while earning 313 yards of total offense on 139 receiving yards and 174 rushing yards. Carvalho carried the ball 16 times for 93 yards, while sophomore running back Kai Thompson (Murrieta, CA) provided 61 yards on the ground. Nickovich and Thompson each hauled in two catches for 41 yards.
Defensively, junior linebacker Matthew Betancourt (San Bernardino, CA) tallied nine tackles, as junior linebacker Jacob Harrold (Lak Havasu City, AZ) recorded seven. In addition to Hackney, senior defensive back Vincent Vanhorne (Henderson, NV), junior defensive lineman Brandon Serrano (Chino, CA), and first-year defensive lineman Luke Purcella (University Place, WA) each contributed to a sack. Senior defensive back Jeff Hector (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA) earned four pass break-ups at critical times.
This is the Maroon and Gray's third victory over a Northwest Conference foe this season, having defeated George Fox University (OR) and the University of Puget Sound (WA).
Redlands (3-0) enjoys a bye week before hosting Pomona-Pitzer Colleges in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) opener on Saturday, October 5, at 7 p.m. in Ted Runner Stadium.