While facing its second nationally-ranked opponent of the season, the University of Redlands football team suffered a 14-35 loss to No. 11 Pacific Lutheran University on Saturday at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, WA. Although the team swapped out a trio of quarterbacks on offense, the Bulldog defense impressed with big plays against tough competition, including a pick-six play by sophomore defensive back Connor Hoffman (Tustin, CA).
Late in the fourth frame, Hoffman intercepted a pass from PLU's Dalton Ritchey on the Maroon and Gray's own 24-yard line before running it all the way back for a touchdown. This was Hoffman's first career pick with the Bulldogs.
Earlier in the second quarter, the Redlands defense came to life with senior defensive lineman Daniel Kane's (Covina, CA) back-to-back sacks. He was joined by senior linebacker Justin Butler (Poway, CA) on the second effort, pushing PLU to settle for a field goal. This was the first of two big defensive stops that forced the Lutes to kick a field goal but neither attempt was successful.
On PLU's subsequent drive, the defense continued to make an impact on the game, when senior defensive back Brandon Morris (Mission Viejo, CA) shoved the ball loose for a critical PLU fumble, halting the opponents' drive at the Bulldog 17-yard line.
In addition, the third quarter saw senior defensive back Michael Dariano (Morgan Hill, CA) intercept a Pacific Lutheran pass, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs.
With less than four minutes to go in the game, Redlands gained an offensive spark from junior quarterback Kevin Russell (Lacey, WA), freshman running back Devin Appleton (San Jose, CA), and sophomore wide receiver Stephen Rodriguez (Brentwood, CA), who combined efforts for a 12-play, 68-yard drive into the end zone. Russell and Appleton each provided 11-yard plays on the series with Russell running the ball and Appleton making a nice catch. Rodriguez capped off the scoring drive with a seven-yard reception for the first touchdown of his Bulldog career.
Morris and junior linebacker Michael Tootle (Las Vegas, NV) spearheaded the Bulldogs' defensive effort with eight total tackles each. Senior defensive lineman Sean Woods (Victorville, CA) and senior linebacker Trevor Manly (Diamond Bar, CA) each recorded five total tackles.
Overall, Redlands held PLU (2-0) to less than 100 yards rushing.
Offensively, Bulldogs' sophomore quarterback Alex Bridgford (Mission Viejo, CA) finished as the top play-caller for the Maroon and Gray, going 9-for-18 for 50 yards and no interceptions. Sophomore running back Curtis Tanquary (San Jose, CA) led the ground game with 47 yards, while senior wide receiver Taylor Irwin (Rocklin, CA) pulled in 30 yards of receiving.
Following next week's bye, Redlands (0-2) looks forward to returning to action when it heads to Occidental College for its Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) opener on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. against the Tigers.