With a little help from a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) foe, the University of Redlands football team captured a share of the 2018 conference title on Senior Day in Ted Runner Stadium on Saturday afternoon. On the heels of senior running back Conner Kennedy's (Olympia, WA) rushing milestone, the Bulldogs dominated the visiting Tigers of Occidental in a 52-20 decision to produce the program's ninth-ever, eight-win season and 31st conference championship.
With Pomona-Pitzer Colleges' 24-19 victory over Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges, Redlands now shares the title with the Stags on a 6-1 SCIAC record.
Against the Tigers, the Maroon and Gray scored on eight out of 12 drives, including the first seven possessions to take a 49-0 lead through three quarters. Overall, the Bulldogs racked up 33 first downs, converted 50% of their third downs, and went 1-for-1 on fourth downs.
The team tallied 542 yards of total offense on 75 plays with an average gain of 7.2 yards. On the ground, Redlands pounded out 303 rushing yards, with Kennedy posting 120 yards en route to eclipsing the 1000-yard mark this season. The consistent workhorse amassed 1,023 yards in 10 games for a career total of 1,796.
Head Coach Mike Maynard utilized a bevy of student-athletes throughout the game, as Kennedy, sophomore wide receiver Jacob Huff (San Juan Capistrano, CA), senior running back Ryan Rieta (Olympia, WA), first-year running back Kai Thompson (Murrieta, CA), and sophomore quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA) accounted for the team's seven touchdowns. Martinez made the most of his snaps by carrying the ball 63 yards to the promised land and tossing a six-yard scoring strike on his second throw of the game.
Redlands also benefitted from the handiwork of five quarterbacks, with senior Levi Plante (Arrowhead, CA) carrying the load on 15-for-16 passing for 178 yards and three scores. He also carried the ball 12 times for 77 yards.
In addition, senior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) split the uprights on a 48-yard field goal and converted all seven PATs.
Defensively, numerous Bulldogs recorded at least one tackle, with senior defensive back Chad Virgil (Menifee, CA) and senior linebacker Jared Emanuele (Norco, CA) each posting five. Overall, the team registered six tackles for a loss of 22 yards. Furthermore, first-year defensive backs Noah Taplett (Woodinville, WA) and Jadin Michaels (Palm Springs, CA) each hauled in an interception. Redlands limited Oxy to only 81 rushing yards as well as a third-down conversion rate of 11%.
Prior to the game, the Bulldogs honored their 17 seniors with a short, on-field ceremony.
Redlands completes the regular season with an 8-2 overall mark.