Craig Lee won’t arrive at UCLA until next season, but the Redlands High School running back has already faced plenty of college-caliber talent this year.
Thursday night the Terriers took on a defending CIF champion Summit defense with eight returning starters that included multiple Division I prospects, but Lee couldn’t be contained for the second consecutive week as he churned out 148 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 21-12 victory at Miller High School.
After Lee was held to 80 yards on 20 carries in a season-opening blowout loss to the CIF-SS Inland Division’s No. 2 team last week, Redlands bounced back by pulling away from the defending Eastern Division champions in the second half thanks in large part to its UCLA-committed running back and a stout defensive effort. Rancho Cucamonga, which features at least four defensive players with multiple scholarship offers, handed Redlands a 40-17 loss last week but Terriers coach Jim Walker knew his team gave the Cougars plenty of assists.
John Valenzuela/Staff Photographer
Redlands running back Craig Lee (above) ran for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 21-12 win over Summit.
“That was our worst game tackling probably in the history of us being here,” Walker said. “We missed 28 tackles. So we knew we had something with this team. We just had to figure it out.”
It was Lee who was breaking the tackles Thursday. The Redlands running back peaked during the Terriers’ first possession of the second half, touching the ball five times on a six-play drive he finished with a touchdown run to give his team a 14-10 lead.
Despite having a 30-yard touchdown run called back in the fourth quarter, Lee eventually found the end zone on the same possession to swell the lead to 21-12.
“We kept our defense on the field for too long tonight,” Summit coach Cesar Villalobos said. “We just had too many penalties.”
Redlands finished strong with 14 points in the second half while holding Summit to just a safety over the final two quarters. After committing 134 yards in penalties during a season-opening 38-6 win over Etiwanda last week, the SkyHawks (1-1) racked up 74 penalty yards on Thursday. Summit ascended to the No. 1 ranking in the CIF-SS Central Division following its drubbing of Etiwanda, but the SkyHawks are sure to drop following their loss to the Inland Division’s 10th-ranked team.
“They wore us down in the second half,” Villalobos said, “because our offense just couldn’t stay on the field.”
Summit’s offense started slow, but after gaining just seven total yards on its first two possessions, the SkyHawks drove their third 65 yards in nine plays for the game’s first touchdown 3:33 before halftime.
Redlands mustered its own 65-yard touchdown drive in just two minutes, 15 seconds as a reverse to fullback Darryl Miller turned into a touchdown pass to a wide open Jordan Ory with just 18 seconds left in the second quarter.
Myles returned the ensuing kickoff 36 yards into Redlands territory and two quick passes later James Fonseca connected on a 41-yard field goal as time expired on the half to give the SkyHawks a 10-7 advantage heading into the locker room.
After 51 rushing yards in the first half, Lee asserted himself on Redlands’ opening possession of the second half. The running back carried four times for 36 yards and took his lone reception 21 yards on a 57-yard touchdown drive. His two-yard scoring run gave the Terriers a 14-10 lead with 5:52 left in the third quarter.
Lee found the end zone for a second time with 7:28 to play, finishing off a 70-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run that put the game out of reach.
“We knew we had to step it up tonight,” Lee said, “and become men.”