The No. 17/22 University of Redlands football team suffered a 14-43 loss to the No. 2/1 University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX) in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Championships on Saturday in Belton, Texas.
Statistically, the Bulldogs earned the advantage over the Cru in multiple categories, including first downs, total yards of offense, time of possession, and third-down conversions. However, Redlands' turnovers proved too much to overcome.
"We made some critical errors. When you do that against the No. 1 team in the nation, it will cost you," Head Coach Mike Maynard stated.
After the Crusaders converted 21 first-half points, the Maroon and Gray opened the third quarter with a scoring drive that covered 90 yards from the kickoff. Redlands established the run game with sophomore running back Kai Thompson's (Murrieta, CA) gritty plays that accounted for 56 yards of the possession. After finding junior wide receiver Kai Kang (Sammamish, WA) on an 11-yard catch and senior tight end Blake Roy (Camas, WA) on a 20-yard strike, senior quarterback Eric Kump (Huntington Beach, CA) carried the ball into the end zone for the team's opening touchdown. Senior kicker Alex Raya's (Jamul, CA) PAT split the uprights to make it 7-21 with 9:02 left in the third.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs' newfound momentum was derailed by the Crusaders, who put up 22 points through the 5:59-mark of the fourth quarter to pull away.
Redlands mustered a late score off Kump's 62-yard pass to Kang that followed big gains from sophomore running back Cole Davis (Morgan Hill, CA).
Thompson finished the day with a game-high 81 yards on the ground. Kang hauled in three catches for 103 yards. Kump went 9-for-19 for 175 yards after taking over for an injured, junior quarterback Nathan Martinez (Redlands, CA).
Redlands produced 13 first downs while the Bulldog defense limited UMHB to 11. The Maroon and Gray tallied 250 yards of total offense and held the Cru to 236, including 65 on the ground. By the final whistle, Redlands had won the time-of-possession battle with more than 31 minutes, as compared to UMHB's 28 minutes.
"I thought the defense played really well, maybe one of their best games this season, but, unfortunately, the score doesn't reflect that," added Maynard.
Junior linebacker Matthew Betancourt (San Bernardino, CA0 led the Maroon and Gray with 10 tackles, including five solo stops, while senior defensive back Chad Virgil (Menifee, CA) contributed eight tackles. Senior defensive lineman Elias Hackney (Santa Monica, CA) stepped up with 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for a loss of 17 yards.
Redlands completes the 2019 season with a 9-2 overall record to go along with a 6-1 mark in Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SCIAC). The Bulldogs earned the program's first nine-win season since the 1978 team went 9-1 under Head Coach Frank Serrao.
"I am really proud of our team. We had a great season and today's game doesn't take away from that," Maynard said.