With plenty riding on the result, the No. 18/23 University of Redlands football left no doubt in Eagle Rock with a 67-12 win over the Occidental College Tigers on Saturday afternoon in Jack Kemp Stadium. After Oxy scored the first touchdown of the game, the Bulldogs fired off seven scoring drives in the first half to propel them to their ninth win of the season.
With the victory, Head Coach Mike Maynard captures the first nine-win season of his career and the school's first since 1978. In addition, Redlands registered its 35th turnover gained for the best in Redlands history since 2009. Furthermore, the Bulldogs reset the program scoring record for a single season with 431 points, which improves upon the previous top mark of 417 points from the 1996 season.
After the Tigers scored early on Saturday, the Maroon and Gray lit up the scoreboard on explosive plays and lucrative takeaways. First-year wide receiver Giovanni Isles (Chino Hills, CA) returned the ensuing kick-off for an 88-yard touchdown before junior quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA) sliced and diced his way through the Oxy defense for 41 yards to make it 14-6 for the Bulldogs.
Two Oxy drives later, the Redlands defense forced a three-and-out possession, which immediately translated into another Bulldog touchdown. Martinez found junior wide receiver Noah McFadden (Puyallup, WA), who came up with the crafty, 45-yard catch for the score.
The next three touchdowns came off huge defensive takeaways, as senior defensive back Jeff Hector (Palos Verdes Peninsula, CA) and sophomore defensive back Jake Geisbauer (Canyon Country, CA) each snagged an interception to deter the Tigers and put the Bulldogs' offense back on the field. Sophomore running backs Kai Thompson (Murrieta, CA) and Cole Davis (Morgan Hill, CA) converted these opportunities into touchdowns to make it 36-6. Redlands turned a bad snap on the point-after try into a two-point conversion, when senior quarterback Eric Kump (Huntington Beach, CA) found junior linebacker Noah Widgins (San Jacinto, CA) in the end zone. Finally, senior defensive back Vincent Vanhorne (Henderson, NV) stripped the ball and recovered the fumble for a 28-yard return to the house.
Thompson's second scamper into the end zone made it 50-6 late in the second quarter.
Redlands took care of business in the second half while displaying its depth in nearly every position. In terms of scoring, the Bulldogs gained touchdowns from junior wide receiver Mason Mesina-Rowe (Pomona, CA) on a 30-yard reception and first-year running back Andrew Kellstrom (San Bernardino, CA) on a 71-yard carry. In addition, senior kicker Alex Raya Jamul, CA) split the uprights on a 19-yard field goal.
By the final snap of the game, the Bulldogs had played three quarterbacks, eight ball-carriers, and 12 receivers en route to 511 yards of total offense. Martinez completed eight of his 11 passes for 109 yards, while Kump finished with seven passes for 91 yards. Sophomore quarterback Bobby Avina (Modesto, CA) went 1-for-1 for 11 yards. Kellstrom finished the day with a team-high 86 yards on four carries. Senior wide receiver Mitchell Nickovich (Mission Viejo, CA) hauled in three catches for 28 yards, as senior wide receiver David Molina (Laguna Hills, CA) pulled in two for 27.
The team converted 69% of its 13 third downs and averaged 8.0 yards per offensive play.
Defensively, Vanhorne paced the Maroon and Gray with five tackles. Six other Bulldogs recorded three stops, while many others provided at least one.
Redlands football (9-1, 6-1 SCIAC) now holds out hope for one of five at-large bids to the NCAA Division III Championships, which will be announced on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The first round of the playoffs takes place on Saturday, November 23.