Despite forcing four turnovers the No. 23 Cal Lutheran football
team needed a clutch blocked field goal with 16 seconds left to
preserve a 24-22 victory over Redlands in the conference opening
contest for both teams. The Kingsmen squandered a 12-point halftime
lead but a Jackson Damron field goal early in the fourth quarter
stood as the game-winning score, the only second half points for
Jacob Norlock was credited with the field goal block of the 40-yard attempt that sealed the important SCIAC win.
Junior running back Deme'Trek Chambers scored all three of CLU's touchdowns, all on the ground and all in the first half.
A pair of third-quarter interceptions thrown by Kingsmen signal caller Jake Laudenslayer led directly to 13 Redlands points as one was returned for a touchdown and the other was brought back to the CLU seven yard line and led to a touchdown pass.
After a three-and-out for CLU on its first possession the punt on fourth down was blocked and Redlands took over at the Kingsmen 26 yard line. The CLU defense stifled the UR offense and forced a 40-yard field goal that gave the Bulldogs an early 3-0 lead.
The Kingsmen came back after surrendering the field goal with an 8-play, 78-yard touchdown scoring drive that featured a lot of Chambers. The junior running back had five carries on the drive for 25 yards including a 14-yard scoring run. He added a 19-yard screen pass reception.
Chambers finished with 194 all-purpose yards. The sophomore tallied 93 rush yards on 28 carries, 30 receiving yards on two catches and added a pair of kick returns for 71 yards.
The Kingsmen offense was unable to make anything of a fumble recovery by sophomore defensive tackle Rian Younker and Redlands came back with an 8-play, 70-yard drive, capped by a touchdown pass from backup quarterback Bobby Brown to wide out Taylor Aubrey. Redlands tried to catch CLU off guard with a two-point conversion attempt but the play was snuffed out by the Kingsmen defense leaving the Bulldogs up 9-7.
CLU junior quarterback Jake Laudenslayer completed passes of 18, 11 and 21 yards on the next possession and Chambers finished the drive with a seven-yard touchdown rush, his second of the game to put the Kingsmen up 14-9 midway through the second quarter.
Laudenslayer finished the game 13 completions on 23 attempts for 156 yards and the two interceptions.
With Redlands trying to put together a drive late in the second quarter, CLU sophomore J.D. Austin intercepted Selway and returned it 43 yards to the UR two-yard line setting up the third touchdown run for Chambers that put CLU up 21-9 at the half.
The CLU defense kept the senior preseason all-American quarterback Selway relatively quiet throughout the game, holding him to 16 completions on 42 attempts for 154 yards. He threw one touchdown and was intercepted once.
On the Bulldogs first play of the second half, CLU forced a fumble and senior defensive end Jeff Miller came up with the recovery at the Redlands 28 yard line. After senior wide out Victor Lara caught a 21-yard pass to convert a third-and-seven, Redlands came up with a goal line stand halting the Kingsmen on four consecutive plays from inside the five yard line, including back-to-back stops of Chambers from one yard out.
Midway through the third, Laudenslayer was intercepted by All-SCIAC defensive back Mike Nicolini, who returned it 61 yards for a touchdown. After another failed two-point conversion, the CLU lead was cut to 21-15.
On CLU's next possession Laudenslayer was intercepted again and Josh Herrera returned it 43 yards to the CLU seven yard line. Selway capitalized with a touchdown pass on the first play, finding tight end Corey Sanchez in the end zone. With the extra point, the Bulldogs led 22-21 late in the third.
The Kingsmen came back with eight consecutive run plays that ended with a fourth-and-one at the Redlands 18 yard line, where Damron's 35-yard field goal from the left hash mark was good, giving CLU a 24-22 lead with 11:48 to play in the game.
With 8:20 to play in the game, Redlands took over with a short field at the CLU 38 yard line and seemed it would take advantage of the field position, picking up a first-and-goal at the seven yard line. The Kingsmen came up with a big play on that first down, forcing another fumble and Erik Chavez came up with the recovery at the CLU nine yard line with 4:48 left in the game.
As CLU tried to work on the clock deep in its own territory Laudenslayer found sophomore wide out Eric Rogers for a first down on a crucial third-and-10 with an 11-yard pass. Two plays later Laudenslayer hit Darryl Carter on a screen pass that went for 15 yards and another first down.
Redlands eventually forced a CLU punt and Nicolini returned the kick to the Redlands 40 yard line, where the Bulldogs took over with 2:24 to play, trailing by two. Facing a fourth-and-four, Selway ran up the middle for five yards, giving UR a first down with 51 seconds left.
The Bulldogs took three shots to the end zone with all three falling incomplete, setting up a game-winning 40-yard field goal opportunity for Redlands that was blocked.
Cal Lutheran (2-1, 1-0 SCIAC) will be on the road again next week as it travels to Whittier for another conference matchup, set to kickoff at 7 p.m.