The University of Redlands football team faced the University of La Verne in an important Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown during Take a Kid to the Game Night in Ted Runner Stadium on Saturday. Amidst a physical and intense battle, the Bulldogs blew it open with a 21-point third quarter to secure a 48-14 victory over the Leopards.
The Bulldogs jumped on the board on their first possession of the game, as junior quarterback Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA) led the charge on an 80-yard, 10-play drive. While junior running back Conner Kennedy (Olympia, WA) provided key yardage late in the drive, Plante accounted for 43 yards on the ground, including the eight-yard scamper into the end zone.
Although La Verne answered with a touchdown of its own, Redlands scored in back-to-back drives midway through the second quarter to make it 21-7. During these possessions, Plante connected with seven different receivers, including a 10-yard strike to senior wide receiver Alex Andrighetto (Portola Valley, CA) and back-to-back passes to freshman wide receiver Jacob Huff (San Juan Capistrano, CA). Senior wide receiver Cole Blackburn (Sammamish, WA) and Kennedy each made their way into the end zone for the touchdowns.
Redlands entered halftime with plenty of momentum and the chance to close this one out in a hurry.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs did just that by erupting for 21 points while minimizing La Verne's opportunities with stellar defense.
Junior running back Josiah Alvira (Danville, CA) provided significant rushing yards in the Maroon and Gray's first scoring drive of the frame, as Redlands moved the ball 73 yards on just seven plays. Plante carried the ball into the end zone for the 28-14 advantage.
On the ensuing La Verne drive, sophomore defensive back PJ Wilson (Modesto, CA) snagged his first of two picks of the night, with this one setting up a short field and an efficient Plante score on a two-yard jaunt.
Less than two minutes later, senior defensive lineman Tristan Corwin (Wildomar, CA) pressured the Leopard quarterback into throwing an interception to Bulldog senior defensive back Daniel Gonzales (Mentone, CA). Redlands quickly turned this into a score, as Plante found a wide-open Andrighetto for the 41-yard touchdown on the very next play.
Late in the third quarter, the Bulldogs remained relentless on defense, with junior linebacker Nick Castro (La Verne, CA), senior defensive back Michael Stallone (Redlands, CA), freshman defensive back Spencer Conley (La Quinta, CA), and senior linebacker Mitch Shepherd (Seattle, WA) providing critical plays. Redlands ultimately halted the Leopards on fourth down to regain possession.
With a solid 42-14 lead, Redlands tacked on a pair of field goals, with junior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) and sophomore kicker Alexander Raya (Jamul, CA) each splitting the uprights, to provide plenty of cushion in the Bulldogs' win.
Overall, Redlands recorded twice as many first down as the Leopards with 26. Plante produced solid numbers, with a 16-for-23 effort for 194 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran the ball 16 times for 56 yards and three scores. Kennedy added 67 yards on the ground for a touchdown, while Andrighetto amassed 104 yards on just four catches.
The Bulldog defense held La Verne to a 4-for-14 performance on third downs. Wilson and Castor each racked up seven tackles, while Conley, Stallone, and senior defensive lineman Michael Burnette Jr. (Oxnard, CA) added five apiece.
Redlands (3-1, 2-0 SCIAC) heads to Chapman University on Saturday, October 14, for a 7 p.m. tilt against the Panthers.