The No. 21/24 University of Redlands football team celebrated its 17 seniors with a solid 45-10 win over the Whittier College Poets on Saturday night in Ted Runner Stadium. While shutting out the visitors in three quarters, the Bulldogs racked up eight sacks for a loss of 42 yards to keep the Poets off-balanced throughout the night. Furthermore, the Maroon and Gray show-cased its depth and versatility en route to the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) triumph.
After the teams traded touchdowns early in the game, the Bulldogs took advantage of good field position that began with senior defensive back Jeff Hector's (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA) 28-yard kickoff return. On an efficient, five-play, 63-yard drive, sophomore running back Cole Davis (Morgan Hill, CA) made his way into the end zone for the Maroon and Gray's 14-7 lead.
Although a Poet field goal made it a four-point game, the Bulldogs immediately responded with another scoring possession. Davis remained hot with a 17-yard carry to initiate the drive, while junior quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA) delivered a five-yard pass to senior tight end Blake Roy (Camas, WA). Martinez also found senior wide receiver Mitchell Nickovich (Mission Viejo, CA) on a 39-yard route to the end zone. After earning the two-point conversion, Redlands headed into the locker room with a 22-10 advantage.
"I'm proud of the way we played and particularly how we responded in the second half," stated Head Coach Mike Maynard.
On Whittier's opening possession of the third quarter, junior linebacker Jacob Harrold (Lake Havasu City, AZ) wrapped up the Poet quarterback to send out the punt team.
"The defense did a nice job of forcing the Whittier quarterback to scramble," added Maynard.
Redlands answered the opportunity with a quick touchdown off Martinez's accurate toss to junior wide receiver Jacob Huff (San Juan Capistrano, CA) for a 39-yard catch.
The Bulldog defense continued to lay on the pressure during Whittier's ensuing drive, with senior defensive lineman Elias Hackney (Santa Monica, CA) sacking the quarterback and senior defensive back Vincent Vanhorne (Henderson, NV) snagging an interception.
Late in the game, it was all Redlands, as the defense kept the Poets off the board and the offense tallied 17 more points for an outstanding finish. In addition to senior kicker Alex Raya's (Jamul, CA) 47-yard field goal, Davis scampered into the end zone from 18 yards out. Sophomore running back Kai Thompson's (Murrieta, CA) 39-yard carry on first-and-10 bolstered this scoring drive for the Bulldogs.
Finally, senior quarterback Eric Kump (Huntington Beach, CA) led the team downfield for 42 yards on five plays, with his seven-yard touchdown pass landing in Roy's hands. First-year running back Andrew Kellstrom (San Bernardino, CA) provided 19 rushing yards on this drive.
Led by Hackney and junior defensive lineman Solomon Iosefa (Riverside, CA), the Redlands defense remained relentless by racking up sacks and forcing the Poets to punt. Junior defensive lineman Brandon Serrano (Chino, CA), junior linebacker Noah Widgins (San Jacinto, CA), sophomore defensive lineman Jake Baillie (Woodinville, WA), and Harrold all contributed to the team's eight sacks.
Martinez finished the night with 13 completions for 199 yards and two touchdowns, while Nickovich tallied 48 receiving yards to lead the team. Eight other receivers tallied at least one catch. On the ground, Davis and Thompson carried the ball nine times each for 180 yards, collectively.
Overall, the team registered 471 yards of total offense for 22 first downs off of 231 passing yards and 240 rushing yards.
Redlands (8-1, 5-1 SCIAC) heads to Occidental College on Saturday, November 16, for a 1:05 p.m. kickoff against the Tigers.