Despite a valiant comeback effort, the University of Redlands Bulldog football team just missed out on the upset of No. 8 Cal Lutheran University on Saturday in Ted Runner Stadium. With at least 14 points scored in each quarter, the highly anticipated Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown provided plenty of excitement, but the Maroon and Gray ended up on the losing end of a 35-45 decision.
Redlands came out of the gates with a big defensive play, as senior defensive back Brandon Morris (Mission Viejo, CA) picked off Kevin Ramay on the Kingsmen's opening drive.
Unfortunately for the Maroon and Gray, Cal Lutheran answered by forcing a fumble on the Bulldogs' next possession.
After the Kingsmen took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, Redlands found new life when it put together a seven-play, 52-yard scoring drive into the promise land. The multi-faceted series culminated in senior quarterback Chad Hurst's (Dixon, CA) 16-yard pass to senior wide receiver Peter Adams(Laguna Niguel, CA), making it a seven-point ball game.
Cal Lutheran tacked on two more touchdowns before the Bulldogs finished the half on a gutsy, 45-second drive from their own 30-yard line for the score. Hurst found senior wide receiver Aaron Atkins (Fallbrook, CA) on a 40-yard bomb to initiate the important rally. A roughing-the-passer call propelled the Bulldogs to within striking distance at the CLU 15. Hurst then connected with freshman wide receiver Stephen Rodriguez (Brentwood, CA) for 12 yards on third down, before hitting Atkins for a three-yard grab into the end zone.
The Bulldogs showed their heart and determination in the second half, creating opportunities for an exciting comeback. Redlands kept knocking on the door, eventually making it a two-point game at 29-31, when the Bulldogs scored on back-to-back possessions in the third quarter.
With the help of an incredible effort by his offensive line, Hurst orchestrated a 61-yard drive to the house, comprised of 47 of his own rushing yards, before senior running back Brad Crisanty (Granite Bay, CA) scampered into the promise land.
The second score was set up by another huge defensive play, with senior defensive back Zak Mella (Yucaipa, CA) playing the spoiler on the Kingsmen's drive by snagging an interception at the 50-yard line. Redlands looked to Crisanty to serve as the work-horse, ball-carrier for four plays, including a hard-fought touchdown run of 31 yards.
However, less than five minutes into the fourth quarter, Cal Lutheran extended its lead to 16 points at 45-29.
But the Bulldogs refused to go away, rallying for a last-minute scoring drive with a total team effort. They moved the ball 75 yards on 15 plays in less than three minutes. Hurst hit Atkins, junior wide receiver Taylor Irwin (Rocklin, CA), and senior wide receiver Mark Richardson II (Los Angeles, CA) on different pass completions. Redlands made its way into the end zone on Crisanty's third touchdown of the night, this one coming on a one-yard effort.
Unfortunately, the ensuing onside kick went to the Kingsmen, leading to the final score of 45-35 in their favor during the first-ever Smudge Pot game between these longtime rivals.
For the Bulldogs, Crisanty finished with a team-high 156 yards, while Hurst added 100 on the ground. Hurst also went 20-for-46 for 235 yards by utilizing six different receivers, with Irwin serving as the top target with 99 yards.
Cal Lutheran (3-1, 2-0 SCIAC) gained 182 rushing yards from Romello Goodman and relied on back-up quarterback Zach Shultis to make 13 completions for 154 yards.
Defensively, senior linebackers Sean Woods (Victorville, CA) and senior linebacker Jordan Garcia (Carlsbad, CA) led the Maroon and Gray with nine tackles each. Woods also recorded two quarterback-hurries.
Redlands (1-3, 1-1 SCIAC) looks to rebound on Saturday when it travels to the University of La Verne for a 7 p.m. tilt with the Leopards in their new stadium.