The University of Redlands football found its stride on Saturday night by opening Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) competition with a resounding 47-7 victory over the Pomona-Pitzer Colleges Sagehens in Claremont. While amassing nearly twice as many offensive yards as the host team, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 19-0 advantage before cruising to the win with a total-team effort.
During the Maroon and Gray's first drive, the squad successfully established the running game with senior running back Bobby Brown (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) carrying the ball four consecutive times for a combined gain of 41 yards and a pair of first downs. After a nine-yard rush by junior quarterback Kevin Russell (Lacey, WA) and an 11-yard completion to junior wide receiver Stephen Rodriguez (Brentwood, CA), the Bulldogs penetrated the Sagehen end zone when junior running back Curtis Tanquary (San Jose, CA) scored Redlands' first touchdown on a two-yard strike.
On Pomona-Pitzer's ensuing possession, the Bulldog defense showed its tenacity and strength by limiting the Sagehens to only one first down before forcing them to punt. Senior linebacker Michael Tootle (Las Vegas, NV) set the tone as the Maroon and Gray's defensive cog, with his first of seven solo tackles in the game.
After the teams traded punts on their subsequent drives, the Bulldogs efficiently marched the ball 76 yards to the promise land for a six-point play by Russell. During the seven-play drive, sophomore running back Tyrone Sauls Jr. (El Cajon, CA) provided key yardage by bookending the series with a combined 15 yards. He finished the night with 58 yards on 10 carries.
After missing the two-point conversion on its second touchdown, Redlands looked to junior kicker Sean Murray (Phoenix, AZ) to convert a 20-yard field goal at the start of the second quarter, making it a 16-0 advantage for the Bulldogs.
Another big defensive effort forced the Sagehens to punt, providing Redlands with the ball on its own 48-yard line. This pass-heavy possession saw Russell find S. Rodriguez and senior wide receiver James Ramirez (La Verne, CA) for big gains, accounting for 49 yards of the drive. Murray split the uprights once again, hitting the 22-yard field goal for the Bulldogs' 19-point lead.
From here, the Maroon and Gray continued to roll, racking up 31 first downs for 235 yards through the air and 255 yards on the ground in a very balanced attack throughout the game. Russell amassed 204 yards on 15 completions for two passing scores. He connected with six different receivers for at least 10 yards, with his top target being S. Rodriguez for 86 yards on six catches. Furthemore, he ran the ball nine times for 66 yards and a touchdown.
In addition, sophomore quarterback Paul Avila (Santa Maria, CA) capped off a solid night for the Bulldogs with his 3-for-3 performance for 31 yards, including a seven-yard strike to freshman wide receiver Kyle Kabeary (Indio, CA) late in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, Redlands looked deep to its roster in a total-team effort that kept Pomona-Pitzer off the scoreboard for most of the night.
Any fourth-quarter hopes of a rally were squashed when senior defensive back Stephen Reyes (Kingsburg, CA) pulled in a 23-yard, pick-six grab.
This was the third pick of the night for Redlands, as sophomore defensive backs Connor Hoffman (Tustin, CA) and Jalen DeVine (Richland, WA) each snagged one. In addition, Hoffman recorded six solo tackles to rank second on the team.
Redlands (1-2, 1-0 SCIAC) looks forward to battling it out with the Kingsmen of Cal Lutheran University in the annual Smudge Pot Trophy game on Sat., Oct. 11, at 7 p.m. in Ted Runner Stadium. The Bulldogs' next game also marks Taka a Kid to the Game Night, during which all adults accompanied by a child receive free admission. Children will be invited down to the field for fun, halftime activities, and will receive a voucher from Corner Baker Café for a free kid's meal.