U of R Football Grinds out 28-21 Win over Puget Sound for 2-0 Start

Conner Kennedy runs the ball against UPS
Photo credit: Charles Blackburn

The University of Redlands football team made the trip to Tacoma, WA, a lucrative one by outlasting the Loggers of the University of Puget Sound in a tale of two halves that resulted in a 28-21 win for the Bulldogs.  After a scoreless first half, both teams made the necessary adjustments to find the end zone, with Redlands putting up two touchdowns in each of the final quarters.  Although there is still plenty of work to do, the Maroon and Gray heads home with a 2-0 record.

During the first half, the teams struggled to break through offensively, with plenty of outside adversity forcing its hand.  The Bulldogs' defense provided two huge stops by holding on fourth down inside the five-yard line on two occasions to keep the Loggers off the board.

"These stops probably provided the difference in the game," Head Coach Mike Maynard stated.

The defense answered the call of making UPS one dimensional on offense and pressured the Loggers to throw the ball 66 times.  Redlands limited their running game to minus-24 yards as well.  In addition, five different players recorded a sack on the Logger quarterback, as highlighted by junior linebacker Justin Sykes' (Palm Desert, CA) knock-down for a loss of 16 yards.

With various second-half adjustments, both teams started to click on offense, beginning with Redlands' opening drive that efficiently covered 50 yards on six plays in 94 seconds. 

Although senior quarterback Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA) is credited with three of the Bulldogs' four touchdowns, it took a consistent and collective effort to penetrate the end zone.  In addition to creatively working for key yardage on the ground, he found junior wide receiver Mitchell Nickovich (Mission Viejo, CA), sophomore wide receiver Noah McFadden (Puyallup, WA), and junior wide receiver David Molina (Laguna Hills, CA) during the team's second scoring drive.  Junior tight end Blake Roy (Camas, WA) and McFadden added critical gains early in the fourth quarter en route to the Maroon and Gray's 21-7 advantage. Senior running back Conner Kennedy (Olympia, WA) proved to be the Maroon and Gray's workhorse throughout the game, churning 134 yards on 24 carries, with most of those coming in the second half.  Redlands' final drive included big carries by junior running back Dalton Lohman (San Clemente, CA) before Plante found Roy on a 27-yard touchdown strike for the 28-7 lead.

Once again, the Bulldogs registered an excellent third-down efficiency, coming in at a 53% clip, as compared to UPS' mark of 35%. 

However, the Loggers refused to go away and mustered two late touchdowns on big completions in the final eight minutes to make the score seemingly closer. 

Defensively, sophomore defensive back Carl Holmes (Fresno, CA) repeated his team-leading effort of a week ago, this time with five solo stops. 

"We learned a lot from this game and we'll work to apply it to the future, especially as we take on Linfield College next week," added Maynard.

The Bulldogs (2-0) face a quick turnaround with next weekend's trip back to the Pacific Northwest for a non-conference tilt against the Linfield Wildcats on Saturday, September 15, at 1:30 p.m. in McMinnville, OR.