This Saturday, Ted Runner Stadium hosted the annual Take a Kid to the Game Night, as U of R’s football team squared off against the University of Laverne. There were multiple events for the children to enjoy, including an opportunity to play on the field during halftime of the match. Redlands put on a clinic, amassing over 400 yards of offense and providing quality defensive stands. The Bulldogs played four quarters of fundamentally sound football and provided the kids with excitement as they shut down the Leopards 48-14.
At the onset of the game, it seemed as if there was going to be a tough battle for both sides. The last time that these teams faced off in Redlands (2015), La Verne mounted a huge fourth-quarter comeback; they scored three touchdowns in the final 15 minutes to win a 49-42 shootout. This time around, Redlands took the early lead on junior quarterback Levi Plante’s ten-yard touchdown run to draw first blood. La Verne responded quickly, however, and got some momentum after a Redlands’ dropped punt. They rushed in a touchdown of their own to tie things up at seven. The game was up for grabs at this point, but the Bulldogs were able to take control early.
In the second quarter, Plante connected with Cole Blackburn, the senior wideout, for a 16-yard passing touchdown that allowed the Bulldogs to regain their lead. The Maroon & Gray tacked on another touchdown before halftime, but this time scoring on a short three-yard rush by junior running back Conner Kennedy. As the halftime whistle blew, the Bulldogs, playing well offensively and defensively, went to the locker rooms with a 21-7 advantage.
Redlands got the ball at the start of the second half, but went three-and-out and gave the ball back to La Verne. The Leopards capitalized on this turnover and scored a touchdown to cut U of R’s lead in half. However, it took Redlands just seven play on the next drive to march 75 yards down the field. They finished the drive by scoring a touchdown on Plante’s second TD rush of the night. At this point, the Bulldogs were up 28-14 and their lead only got larger as the game went on.
The Bulldog defense came out on the next drive feeling extra energized. They intercepted a pass from the Leopards’ quarterback, ran it back to La Verne’s two-yard line, and gave the ball right back to the relentless Redlands’ offense. The Bulldogs scored three plays later; Levi Plante ran it in from two yards out to give him a hat-trick of some sorts with three rushing touchdowns. The extra point was good, and Redlands found themselves on top 35-14.
Not satisfied with just one interception, the Bulldog defense went out and got another. Defensive Back PJ Wilson picked off the Leopard quarterback for his and the team’s second of the night. Redlands couldn’t capitalize on the turnover, when kicker Nathan Hierlihy’s field goal attempt went wide right. The Leopards were grateful that their turnover didn’t lead to more opponent points, but apparently they didn’t learned from their mistakes. On the first play of the new drive, the opposing quarterback once again threw a pick — his third in his last four pass attempts — this time to senior defensive back Daniel Gonzales. Redlands got the ball on offense and on their first play, scored on a 41 yard touchdown pass to senior running back Alex Andrighetto. That brought the score 42-14 and essentially ended any chance for a comeback from the Leopards. The Bulldogs tacked on a pair of field goals later in the game to beat La Verne 48-14.
Redlands football scored at an absurd rate last season, averaging 37 points per game; the team has topped that so far this year, as they have been scoring approximately 41 points per game in each of their first five contests this season. Dual-threat Levi Plante had three rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns to lead the offensive charge this time. Redlands will take their unstoppable offense on the road next week, when they travel to Anaheim to take on the Chapman Panthers.
photo contributed by Redlands Bulldog photographer Jo Chae