REDLANDS — With patience and the landing of a good onside kick recovery, the Redlands football team earned an 8-5 victory over Riverside Poly in a nonleague game Friday night.
For three quarters, Redlands (4-1) was unable to score. That changed when Terriers coach Robert Stangel put quarterback Albert Suarez, who was dealing with a partially torn Achilles and sprained ankle, in the game for the first time in two weeks. And it was the defense that gave its wounded quarterback and team a spark.
With 1:55 left in the third quarter, a pack of Terriers forced a fumble that was recovered by Patrick Palafox.
The defense didn’t allow an offensive score the entire game and only allowed one trip to the red zone. After back-and-forth possessions of the ball well into the fourth quarter, the Terrier reached the red zone.
Teddy McGee carried three times for 19 yards to move the ball to the 6 with 1:37 left in the game. With his inured left leg taped up at the ankle, a brace on knee and a noticeable limp, Suarez threw a 6-yard touchdown to Tyson Gaines in the middle of the end zone. Suarez then added the two-point conversion on the ground to give the Terriers the lead with 1:29 remaining on the clock.
Stangel credited special teams coach Diego Marquez with the call of the season with what happened next. Marquez and the kickoff unit executed an onside kick which was recovered by Palafox. Two plays later after Redlands recovered the onside kick, Poly was able to force a fumble of their own.
With 51 seconds left in the game and all three timeouts at its disposal, Poly decided to run the ball and picked up a first down. Poly (1-4) called its first timeout before calling up a pass play in hopes of moving close to the end zone. But Palafox once again got his hands on the ball with a 67-yard interception and return that sealed the victory for Redlands. Poly’s last two timeouts of the game weren’t enough to save them, as Redlands was able to go into victory formation with 14 seconds left on the clock.
“Everything came so fast. The fumble recovery and the onside recovery just landed in my hands,” Palafox said. “On the interception, they ran that play three times in the game, and on this fourth time it was going to be mine,”
Palafox ended the game with four tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery, an onside kick recovery and his game-sealing interception for the Redlands defense.
“This game was the greatest display of teamsmanship I have ever seen in my career,” Stangel said. “I have been coaching for a long time and at no point did this team give up. This shows the embody of this team and the heart that we show. Today’s game was dedicated to Alex Verhoeven.”
Alex Verhoeven, who played for the Terriers from 2010-13, tragically died in a motorcycle accident in August. His brother Ben is the team’s tight ends coach. After the game, Stangel gave the game ball to Alex’s father, James.
Redlands host Citrus Valley in a Citrus Belt League opener Friday, Sept. 29. Riverside Poly will host Paloma Valley in a Sunbelt League opener Sept. 29..
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here