With tenacity and effort, the University of Redlands football team captured a hard-fought 15-13 win over Pomona-Pitzer Colleges on the road in Saturday's opening Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) showdown.
After the Sagehens scored a first-quarter touchdown, the Bulldogs struggled to put points on the board. Nonetheless, the Redlands defense did its part to keep the visiting team in the game. The first half closed out with a highlight-reel play that sent the Maroon and Gray into the locker room with new energy. Junior defensive lineman Elias Hackney (Santa Monica, CA) found a way to block a Pomona-Pitzer field-goal attempt to keep it a one-score game.
"I'm really proud of the way the guys played," stated Head Coach Mike Maynard. "They kept fighting and stayed in the game."
Midway through the third quarter, the Bulldogs gained another momentum builder when junior Alexander Raya's (Jamul, CA) 38-yard punt pinned the Sagehens deep in their own territory. The first play of their drive resulted in an interception to the one-yard line by sophomore defensive back Marvin Perkins Jr. (Las Vegas, NV). Senior quarterback Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA) immediately turned that into six points on a one-yard carry.
Late in the third quarter, Hackney got his hand on another field-goal attempt to deny Pomona-Pitzer once again. This change of possession set up the Maroon and Gray's five-play, 59-yard scoring drive that ended in a 40-yard jaunt into the end zone by Plante.
With about 11 minutes to go in the game, Perkins snagged his second pick of the night, with this one leading to a field goal. Senior running back Conner Kennedy (Olympia, WA) and Plante accounted for key yards on the ground, while Plante also found junior tight end Blake Roy (Camas, WA) on an 18-yard strike during the drive. Senior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) split the uprights from 20-yards out to make it 15-7.
After notching a touchdown and a successful onside kick, the home team appeared to be knocking on the door of the winning drive. However, Redlands' defense had other plans, with senior linebacker Nick Castro (La Verne, CA), junior defensive back PJ Wilson (Modesto, CA), sophomore defensive back Carl Holmes (Fresno, CA), and sophomore linebacker Matthew Bettancourt (San Bernardino, CA) coming up with big-time stops. As a team, the Bulldogs dug deep to keep the Sagehens out of the end zone and hold on for the close win.
"Although we made some mistakes, we can work to fix those. The team played really hard. We were ready to play all four quarters and that provided an advantage."
Perkins finished with 10 tackles, including six solo stops and one tackle for a loss of 23 yards. He also hauled in two interceptions and registered three pass break-ups for a stellar night.
Kennedy provided an offensive bright spot for the Bulldogs by running the ball for 114 yards. He gained great assistance from the offensive line, which created lucrative seams for him.
Redlands (3-1, 1-0 SCIAC) hosts Chapman University on Saturday, October 6, for a 7 p.m. conference game in Ted Runner Stadium. In addition, this will be the annual Take a Kid to the Game Night as well as Coach to Cure Night.