Something happened under the new William Rolland Stadium lights on Oct. 1, and by some accounts what happened wasn’t just memorable football.
“‘Magical’ is definitely the first word that comes to mind,” said Karsten Lundring ’65, CLU’s first pep commissioner and number one sports fan. “It felt absolutely like a storybook or a filming of a movie. It felt like we were both living it and being part of the story that was being written.”
Cal Lutheran took the lead over Redlands for the first time that night with just 16 seconds on the clock, on a
1-yard sneak by quarterback Jake Laudenslayer at the far end of a 98-yard scoring drive. Redlands’ Hail Mary pass to the CLU end zone failed, time expired and Kingsmen fans rushed the field.
Twenty-eight to 24. And that’s only the ending.
It started on a gorgeous late afternoon that, if you’d left your sunglasses behind, was too bright in the West-facing home stands. As the sun was setting, Bill Rolland, the $5 million donor parked there, received a warm ovation.
Babies arrived with CLU logos on their cheeks. Latecomers clogged the steps and began filling the visiting team’s bleachers. Students yelled the words to the national anthem. As the crowd brimmed to nearly 4,000, fans took up places mountainside behind the north fence.
Back in the stands, junior accounting major Stanford Anthony gave the new stadium a thumbs-up. Did he attend all of the games? “I will now,” he said.
Linda Nausin ’70, a staff member in the Graduate School of Education, recalled the late 1960s: “They kept talking about how we would have a new stadium before we graduated. Well, guess what? This is well worth the wait.”
“You see every demographic here,” said CLU athletic director Dan Kuntz. “The excitement, the fun, the anticipation: it’s the first time ever in Ventura County for an intercollegiate, four-year university to have a stadium that brings people together for football games.”
What could spoil it?
Featuring the two strongest teams in the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, the season opener promised to be a pivotal contest. During the first half, University of Redlands quarterback Chad Hurst scrambled almost at will, and his offense put up 14 points in the first eight minutes. At halftime the Kingsmen faced a 24-0 deficit.
In the end Lundring – who figures that he and his wife, Kirsten ’64, have missed a total of 11 CLU games, home and away, in almost 50 football seasons – could think of just two games that he liked as well as this one.
There might be five like it in the whole history of the team, he said.
“The football was almost secondary except that it then became the story with the perfect ending,” said Lundring.
“From being almost hopeless at halftime to being filled with hope just a few minutes later, to thinking, ‘Hey, this team can do this,’” he went on, “[the game] definitely just raised hopes throughout the second half, and they kept building and building.”