Game Preview: Bulldog Football Takes on No. 11 Linfield Wildcats in Third Northwest Conference Clash of the Season

Sat., Sept. 21, at 7:05 p.m.

Ted Runner Stadium

University of Redlands


The University of Redlands football team competes at home for the second week in a row while squaring off against its third Northwest Conference (NWC) opponent this season.  Saturday's showdown pits the Bulldogs against the visiting Wildcats of 11th-ranked Linfield College (OR) at 7:05 p.m. on Take a Kid to the Game Night in Ted Runner Stadium. 

Last week, Redlands dominated the University of Puget Sound (WA) in a 58-7 rout during its home opener.  The Bulldogs benefitted from their strength and fitness late in the game, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. 

"We are proud of our guys.  We competed really well, came out fast, came out hard, and took control of the game right away," stated Head Coach Mike Maynard.

The team racked up more than 600 yards of offense, including 323 off an aerial attack and 303 on the ground. 

While starting only his third game, junior quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA) continues to shine as a versatile play-maker for the Maroon and Gray.  So far, he is completing passes at a 75.5% clip with 465 passing yards, six touchdowns, and no interceptions.

"Nathan is a very smart player," said Maynard.

Furthermore, Martinez can effectively run the ball but also relies on first-year running back Mason Carvalho (Menifee, CA) and sophomore running back Kai Thompson (Murrieta, CA) to carry more of the load.  The duo has nearly 300 yards collectively in two games.

The Maroon and Gray succeeded in keeping the offense on the field with seven key defensive takeaways.  Last week's showing puts Redlands at plus-eight in turnover margin to tie-for-second in NCAA Division III this season. 

"To be plus-eight after two games is pretty unique and maybe crazy good, but it's got to hold up over time," Maynard added.

Senior defensive back Jeff Hector (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA) secured three of the Bulldogs' six interceptions and was named the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) Defensive Player of the Week.

The last meeting between Redlands and Linfield was in 2018, with the Wildcats snagging a tight 13-0 result in McMinnville, Oregon.  This is the first time these teams have played on Redlands' home field since 2014.

While covering nearly 6,000 miles round trip, Linfield came home from Rowan University (NJ) with a 35-14 win.  The Wildcats utilized a full-field offense that included explosive, long-yardage pass plays, but very little ground game.  Senior wide receiver Keegan Weiss hauled in five catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Keaton Wood also secured big gains through the air, including a 48-yarder into the end zone.  Junior quarterback Wyatt Smith recorded 283 passing yards and four touchdowns in his season debut.

Defensively, the Wildcats forced Rowan into four turnovers with three interceptions and a fumble last week.  Sophomore linebacker Brian Pullman and senior safety Keyell Davis joined forces for 28 tackles, with Pullman earning the NWC Defensive Athlete of the Week as a result of his effort.

Obviously, there is a lot at stake for either team.  Linfield has traditionally been the top team in the NWC, while Redlands has won the SCIAC multiple times in recent years. 

"The intensity of this game will be incredible," Maynard said.