The University of Redlands football team hit the road for the final time this regular season and squared off against the Whittier College Poets in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC) action on Saturday evening. A huge first half propelled the Bulldogs to a dominating 42-7 win in a game that also allowed them to utilize their depth.
After junior defensive back Chad Virgil (Menifee, CA) hauled in an interception, the Maroon and Gray marched 65 yards to the end zone for an early 7-0 lead. With Whittier putting up solid coverage, the Bulldogs gained critical yards from senior quarterback Levi Plante (Lake Arrowhead, CA), who scrambled into first-down territory on multiple occasions. On the ninth play of the drive, he delivered a touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Steve Van Grouw (Exeter, CA) from 13 yards out.
The Bulldog defense denied the Poets any chance to equalize the score on a subsequent three-and-out that was highlighted by senior defensive lineman Troy Kay's (New York City, NY) sack.
Redlands continued to adjust to the Poets' defensive formations and successfully orchestrated another scoring drive late in the first frame. This time, Plante made a six-yard jaunt to the house before senior kicker Nathan Hierlihy (Redondo Beach, CA) split the uprights on the extra point for the 14-0 advantage.
At the start of the second quarter, junior wide receiver David Molina's (Laguna Hills, CA) 22-yard punt return set up a short field for the Bulldogs, who efficiently moved the chains and scored the touchdown on just four plays. Senior running back Conner Kennedy (Olympia, WA) made his way to the promise land, as Redlands extended its lead to 21 points.
By the end of the first half, Redlands owned a 35-0 advantage on an incredibly stingy defensive effort. Senior linebacker Nick Castro (La Verne, CA), junior defensive back PJ Wilson (Modesto, CA), senior linebacker Peter Riccolo (Morris, IL), senior defensive lineman Joe Munroe (Costa Mesa, CA), and sophomore linebacker Matthew Betancourt (San Bernardino, CA), among others, tallied key stops for the shutout showing.
Offensively, Kennedy and Van Grouw each registered another touchdown, while Hierlihy remained perfect on the PATs. In addition to important yards by Plante, sophomore quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA) stepped in as the Bulldogs' play-caller with continued success.
During the second half, Redlands utilized its depth to explore some new options in personnel. Among the highlights, sophomore wide receiver Jacob Huff (San Juan Capistrano, CA) added a touchdown to the scoreboard off Martinez's five-yard pass.
Overall, the team put together a strong showing in all three facets of the game.
"It's all coming together on offense, defense, and kicking for a strong finish," commented Head Coach Mike Maynard.
Redlands (7-2, 6-1 SCIAC) looks forward to hosting Senior Day on Saturday, November 10, against Occidental College at 1 p.m. in Ted Runner Stadium.