Redlands Football Drops Tough Loss to No. 7 Linfield College

Photo credit: Charles Blackburn
Photo credit: Charles Blackburn

The University of Redlands football team took on No. 7 Linfield College (OR) in its second trip to the Pacific Northwest in as many weeks on Saturday.  Despite giving up only 13 points to this nationally-ranked foe, the Bulldogs struggled to sustain drives against a formidable Wildcat defense and headed home from McMinnville with a loss.

Midway through the first quarter, the Wildcats began a drive with a short field but the Redlands defense held strong by forcing the home team to settle for a field goal.  Junior defensive back PJ Wilson (Modesto, CA), junior defensive back Vinny Vanhorne (Henderson, NV), and senior defensive lineman Troy Kay (New York City, NY) limited Linfield's advancement downfield by registering tackles during this stretch.

"The defense really rose to the challenge and played one of their finest games," said Head Coach Mike Maynard.

The Wildcats' subsequent drive ended in the Bulldogs' first interception of the season, as sophomore defensive back Carl Holmes (Fresno, CA) snagged what would have been a touchdown for Linfield.  Holmes managed to escape the end zone to Redlands' two-yard line. 

Although the Maroon and Gray offense struggled to score, the resilient efforts of the defense kept Redlands in the game.  Early in the second quarter, the Wildcats were knocking again, but senior linebacker Nick Castro (La Verne, CA) forced a fumble that senior defensive lineman Tobias Leonardos (Half Moon Bay, CA) recovered on the Bulldogs' own one-yard line to keep Linfield at bay.

Redlands' secondary hauled in another interception late in the second quarter, as sophomore defensive back Brandon Heinel (Redlands, CA) made the grab to halt Linfield once again.

Trailing by only three points, the Bulldogs entered halftime with plenty of time and desire to overcome the small deficit.

However, Linfield put up a touchdown on its opening drive of the third quarter for a 10-0 lead, making it a two-score game.

Nonetheless, Redlands continued to fight and shortened the Wildcats' next drive with another forced fumble and recovery.  This time, senior linebacker Peter Riccolo (Morris, IL) swatted it out of the running back's hands and sophomore linebacker Jacob Harrold (Lake Havasu, AZ) smothered it up for the Bulldogs.

The Wildcats mustered one more field goal with 5:23 left in the game.  Unfortunately, the Maroon and Gray's final chances to score were derailed once again, resulting in the 13-point loss.

"We had a bunch of guys who played hard but we just didn't execute," added Maynard.  "I'm proud of them. We showed that we have a lot of fight in us."

Junior defensive back Chad Virgil (Menifee, CA) provided a team-high 12 tackles for the Bulldogs.  Kay added seven stops, including two sacks for a loss of 14 yards. 

Redlands (2-1) enters the bye week with its sights on conference competition.  The Bulldogs head to Pomona-Pitzer Colleges for the first Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) game on Saturday, September 29, at 7 p.m. in Claremont.