THOUSAND OAKS — Zack Hernandez was dragged down from behind just before Cal Lutheran could do the same to Redlands.
The Bulldogs prevailed, 28-21, when Rob Benson intercepted a pass by Hernandez at the Redlands 29-yard line with 3 1/2 minutes left in a Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener Saturday at Mt. Clef Stadium.
Hernandez scrambled away from pressure on second down from the Redlands 37-yard line. After eluding one defender, Hernandez was in the grasp of another Bulldog when he threw a pass in the direction of Tim Kirksey that was grabbed instead by Benson.
"It was probably a dumb mistake," Hernandez said. "No, it was a dumb mistake.
"I should have known better than that but, I don't know, I was trying to do something."
Hernandez helped put the Kingsmen (1-3) ahead, 14-13, at halftime and brought them to within a touchdown in the fourth quarter after Redlands built a 14-point lead.
Cal Lutheran was trailing, 28-14, when Hernandez scored on a one-yard run with 7:45 left in the game to cap a six-play, 57-yard drive. Hernandez rushed for 16 yards, passed for 26 yards and drew a 15-yard facemask penalty against Redlands on the drive.
The Kingsmen stuffed Redlands (3-1) on its ensuing series, giving Hernandez a chance to pull out a victory.
"I don't know what it is about this team," said Kirksey, who caught eight passes for 112 yards. "It seems like we have to get behind before we wake up.
"This is one that's going to stay with us for a while just because we had a chance to pull it out. It was a great game to be in, but it's hard to swallow because we had a shot."
Hernandez, who took a beating throughout and was diagnosed with a slight concussion late in the game, was held out of Cal Lutheran's last offensive series, which began with 2:04 left.
Redlands ended any desperate hopes the Kingsmen had three downs later when Derek Brown's pass was intercepted.
Hernandez completed 17 of 25 passes for 165 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions, and he rushed for 67 yards in 14 carries.
"It was a battle the whole time," Benson said. "They came at us and we had our backs up against the wall a little bit, but we came up with some big plays when we needed them."
Redlands took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but Hernandez threw a one-yard touchdown pass to Seth Pierce to tie the score.
After Redlands took a 13-7 lead, Kirksey caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Hernandez with 25 seconds left in the half to give Cal Lutheran a 14-13 edge.
Damian Delfino, who went to Oak Park High and Moorpark College, caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Marty Rincon to give Redlands a 20-14 lead.
Neil Churchill's one-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion increased the Bulldogs' lead to 28-14.