The University of Redlands football team took on Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) foe, Chapman University, in a highly-anticipated showdown during Saturday's Take a Kid to the Game and Coach to Cure M.D. Night in Ted Runner Stadium. After neither team scored in the first quarter, the Bulldogs found their rhythm and went off for 517 offensive yards en route to a 39-26 victory.
Redlands scored on six drives and forced Chapman to punt on seven occasions. Among the key defensive stops, junior defensive back Chad Virgil (Menifee, CA), sophomore defensive back Carl Holmes (Fresno, CA), and sophomore defensive back Marvin Perkins Jr. (Las Vegas, NV) recorded big-time tackles early on to keep the Panthers out of the end zone.
Sophomore quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA) stepped into the game late in the first quarter and settled in nicely. The Bulldogs jumped on the scoreboard first with 4:52 to go in the second quarter when Martinez unleashed a 74-yard throw to a wide-open junior wide receiver Steve Van Grouw (Exeter, CA). After senior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) split the uprights, the Maroon and Gray owned a 7-0 lead.
Following a tough defensive stand against the Panthers, the Bulldogs went right back to work on offense and executed an eight-play, 78-yard drive to the end zone. Martinez carried the ball four times, as highlighted by a 33-yard scramble to the Chapman 40-yard line. Five plays later, junior tight end Blake Roy (Camas, WA) pulled in a miraculous, 16-yard catch to extend the home team's advantage to 13-0 at the end of the first half.
However, the Panthers used the halftime intermission to their full advantage and erupted for a quick touchdown to start the third quarter.
Regardless, Redlands remained unfazed and quickly answered with a scoring drive of its own. Martinez stayed hot in the pocket and connected with Van Grouw for another lucrative strike on a 33-yard gain for a first down at the Chapman 19. It didn't take long for Martinez to find sophomore wide receiver Jacob Huff (San Juan Capistrano, CA) open in the end zone on a corner route for the touchdown. Hierlihy's PAT made it a 20-7 game.
Although Chapman responded with a 78-yard touchdown drive, the Bulldogs blocked the extra point, as senior defensive lineman Joe Munroe (Costa Mesa, CA) extended his hand to bat the ball away.
After a 30-yard field goal by Hierlihy, Redlands' defense continued to work to minimize the Panthers' red-zone chances, forcing them to punt on two possessions and then hauling in an interception on another. Senior linebacker Nick Castro (La Verne, CA), senior linebacker Peter Riccolo (Morris, IL), and junior defensive back Vinny Vanhorne (Henderson, NV) added key tackles on these plays, while junior defensive back PJ Wilson (Modesto, CA) made a 14-yard interception return.
In addition, the Bulldogs tacked on two more touchdowns, as senior running back Conner Kennedy (Olympia, WA) heated up in the ground game. During these drives, he carried the ball 13 times and ultimately made his way into the end zone twice. In addition, junior wide receiver David Molina (Laguna Hills, CA) made critical contributions to the team's success, including a diving, 20-yard catch to keep the drive alive on third down.
Late in the fourth quarter, Redlands capped off the night's scoring with a defensive PAT by senior defensive lineman Troy Kay (New York City, NY). After Chapman's bad snap on a two-point conversion, Kay scooped up the ball and sprinted downfield for the unusual play.
Although Chapman mustered two late touchdowns, the Bulldogs remained in front for the hard-fought victory.
Kennedy finished the night with 150 yards on 33 carries, while Van Grouw racked up 121 yards through the air on just three receptions. Martinez delivered 257 yards through the air on 16-of-22 passing.
Overall, Castro paced the Bulldogs with six tackles, while Munroe recorded the only sack against the Panthers.
Redlands (4-1, 2-0 SCIAC) hosts Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges on Saturday, October 13, for a 7 p.m. tilt at Ted Runner Stadium.