The University of Redlands football team was back to form on Saturday as it handled Whittier 53-14. Coach Mike Maynard said it was good to see his team bounce back from a loss to Occidental the previous week that seriously damaged its playoff hopes.
“We needed to go out and play well and get over what was ailing us,” he said. “Our focus was on getting back to playing Bulldog football and I think we did that.”
The Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1) were superior in all facets of the game but were especially impressive on defense. They ranked first nationally against the run and second in overall defense before being throttled by Occidental.
But the Bulldogs were stellar in all aspects Saturday. They intercepted six passes with senior Conor Drake returning two for touchdowns and freshman Chris Yeakey running back another. The other three were recorded by Mike Nicolini, Josh Herrera and Eddie Stamm.
Maynard said he thought that might be a school record but further review showed it was tied for second. Redlands had eight in a 1980 game against La Verne and six against Pomona-Pitzer in 2002.
The Bulldogs were also solid against the run, giving up just 69 yards and holding the SCIAC’s leading rusher Anthony Pomponio to 34 on 20 carries. He was kept in check even with backups playing much of the second half.
Maynard said he thought about making personnel changes but opted not do to so.
“We just wanted to go out and play better defense. We are what we are and we just wanted to get better,” he said.
Maynard cleared his bench early with backup quarterback Dylan Barrera seeing action for the first time. He went from being third-string to backup when starter Dan Selway was injured.