The University of Redlands football team hit the road on Saturday for a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown against the Stags of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges. After facing a five-point, halftime deficit, the Bulldogs came out of the locker room with a reenergized determination, which translated into quality productivity on both sides of the ball. The Maroon and Gray scored 30 points while holding the Stags to only eight in the second half en route to an important 42-25 win on the road.
Junior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) stepped up to split the uprights on a pair of field goals to put Redlands on the board early on.
Although CMS got things going for 17 points, Redlands bounced back with a late score in the second quarter, which set the tone for the remainder of the game. With just over a minute to go in the stanza, junior quarterback Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA) marched the Bulldogs downfield for 70 yards on just seven plays, including a 33-yard strike to senior wide receiver Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA). Plante carried the ball 22 yards on third and 18 to move the chains well into field-goal territory. However, a CMS timeout allowed the Bulldogs to set up a sweet, 19-yard pass to senior wide receiver Alex Andrighetto (Portola Valley, CA), who hauled it in for the touchdown.
Following Head Coach Mike Maynard's rousing halftime speech, Redlands took the field with a sense of urgency and desire, which led to an immediate touchdown. This seven-play, 65-yard drive included big gains on the ground by junior running back Josiah Alvira (Danville, CA) and quality catches by Andrighetto and freshman wide receiver Jacob Huff (San Juan Capistrano, CA). Alvira punched it into the end zone on a two-yard scamper for the Bulldogs' 18-17 advantage.
Redlands' offensive success was due in part to the stellar play of the offensive line that included junior Tommy Garcia (La Habra, CA), freshman Anthony Vargas (Grand Terrace, CA), senior Zachary Vazquez (Beaumont, CA), senior Toma Suafoa-Aumavae, senior Mike Serrano (San Diego, CA), and senior Danny Badgley (Fairwood, WA).
After the defenses traded stops, the Bulldogs unleashed another dynamic play on the first play of their third drive of the quarter, with Plante finding senior wide receiver Cole Blackburn (Sammamish, WA) on a 34-yard pass for the touchdown. After Hierlihy hit the extra point, Redlands held a 25-17 lead with 8:11 to go in the third stanza.
Although CMS managed to find the end zone on the ensuing possession, the Bulldogs came right back to orchestrate a 12-play, 65-yard scoring drive to make it 32-25. In addition to quality catches by Blackburn, Redlands gained a huge first down from junior running back Conner Kennedy (Olympia, WA) on a four-yard carry on fourth and two. Kabeary and junior wide receiver Xavier Villanueva (Peoria, AZ) got in on the air attack, with Kabeary hauling in the eight-yard snag for the score.
The Bulldog defense stepped up big time on the Stags' next drive, as junior linebacker Nick Castro (La Verne, CA) and senior defensive back Dustin Nascimento (Aiea, HI) stuffed the run on fourth down to give the ball back to Redlands at the CMS 47-yard line. This quickly inspired a 37-yard Blackburn catch, which set up a five-yard scoring jaunt by Alvira.
The Stags' next two drives fell short due to the diligence of the Bulldog defense, with freshman defensive back Spencer Conley (La Quinta, CA) hauling in a pick in the end zone before the line caused and recovered a CMS fumble.
Redlands' final points came off of a perfectly-executed, 27-yard field goal by Hierlihy to seal the deal on the 45-25 victory.
Overall, the Bulldogs recorded 553 yards of offense for 25 first downs. Plante finished the day with a 21-for-34 effort for nearly 300 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also racked up 143 yards on the ground. Blackburn served as his top target, recording 132 yards on just nine catches.
Hierlihy put together a flawless day with three PATs and three field goals.
Redlands (4-2, 3-1 SCIAC) returns home to the friendly confines of Ted Runner Stadium on Saturday, October 28, for Homecoming against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. Kick-off is slated for 7 p.m.