Derwin Johnson defends a pass for Redlands.

The bright spot for the University of Redlands football team following a 25-21 loss to Claremont-Mudd-Scripps last week is that conference play has not started.  

The Bulldogs don’t open Southern California Collegiate Athletic Conference play until Saturday, Oct. 8, when they meet host California Lutheran in the Smudge Pot Game.  

So Redlands (0-4) has another week to regroup and prepare for Cal Lu.  

Asked what the Bulldogs are lacking, Redlands coach Jim Good said, “Finish. I would say finish more than anything else. And being able to play as a one unit. We have flashes of offense and flashes of defense and flashes of special teams. But we have yet to put that all together.”  

Good emphasized that the start of SCIAC play is an opportunity.  

“There’s a carrot dangling in front of us,” he said.   

Things looked excellent for Redlands when quarterback Myles Herrera connected with Graig Padgett from 10 yards in the front corner of the end zone. The Bulldogs led 21-12 early in the fourth quarter and seemed headed for their first victory.  

But bullish CMS back Justin Edwards and the Stags (2-1) had other ideas.  

Bolstered by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, CMS drove 64 yards on seven plays to score on a 9-yard pass from Walter Kuhlenkamp to Mason Colton.  

The Stags trailed by only 21-19 with 8:31 left.  

The CMS defense rose in the final quarter and made play after play. Redlands on its ensuing possession faced a third-and-eight on its own 19. The Stags’ Michael Houk sacked Herrera for a 10-yard loss.  

The Stags took over on their own 38 after the punt. They immediately pounded away with Edwards (122 yards on 17 carries) picking up 37 yards on four carries to move the ball deep into Bulldog territory.  

Brian Loudermilk Jr. finally carried the ball in from 10 yards to give CMS a four-point lead with 4:59 left.  

Redlands managed to pick up two first downs on its ensuing possession, which pushed the ball to the Bulldog 31. But two consecutive sacks by Joey Asta — the second on fourth-and-17 from the Bulldog 34 — ended the drive.  

The Bulldogs got the ball back once more, this time with 56 seconds left from their own 15. They managed one first down, but another sack and three incompletions ended the game.

Bulldog safety Scott Tinsley hinted this juncture is a test for the Bulldogs.  

“I feel like this team is trying to find their identity,” he said. “Guys are trying to figure out their identities as leaders on the team. There are some growing pains right now, but now every single game matters.”    

The game started well for Redlands.  

Trailing 3-0 after one quarter, the Bulldogs  took the lead 7-3 on a one-yard plunge by Aquinas High of San Bernardino grad Andrew Kellstrom.  

Redlands increased its lead to 14-3 with 8:00 left in the first half on a 7-yard pass from Herrera to Michael Mindnich. A pass interference penalty aided the drive.  The Stags cut the lead to 14-6 by the end of the first half with a 27-yard field goal by Alessandro Maiuolo.

CMS cut the Bulldog lead to 14-12 with 9:07 left in the third quarter on a 61-yard pass from Kuhlenkamp to Anderson Cynkar. The 2-point conversion attempt failed.  

But Herrera’s 10-yard TD pass to Padgett early in the fourth quarter put the Bulldogs on the cusp of victory – only to have the gritty Stags snatch the win away.  

“How you react to adversity will define your success in life,” Good said. “I think they’re reacting really well to it. Two things are going to happen to a team – you’re going to come together or you’re going to pull apart.”