ADRIAN, Mich. – Albion College proved to be resilient yet again Saturday as it weathered an hour and 20 minute storm delay, missed field goals to come away empty on its first two possessions, and its opponent's surge early in the third quarter to clinch at least a share of its 34th Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship with a 28-14 victory over 16th-ranked Adrian College.
Albion (5-3 overall, 5-0 MIAA) has won five straight going into a Nov. 5 non-league date at DePauw University. The Britons complete the season with the Briton Spirit Day game against Trine University Nov. 12.
"Our kids have been great all year. I told them during the week the three (non-conference) games we played, even though we didn't win them, prepared us for a game like this," Albion Head Coach Craig Rundle said. "We've been through a lot of adversity and we know how to respond. Offense, defense, special teams, everybody was super today.
"(The MIAA title) means a lot to me from the standpoint to see the kids rewarded for the hard work, dedication and commitment they put in it," Rundle added. "The guys have stuck with it. It's great to see them happy and celebrating."
The Britons were unable to take advantage of good field position to start the contest. Adrian received the opening kickoff, but the Briton defense forced a three-and-out to set the offense up at the Bulldog's 47-yard line. Albion's second possession started at the Briton 47. Both possessions ended in missed field goals.
Quarterback Spencer Krauss got hot on Albion's third possession, hooking up with Brian Spencer on a pair of 16-yard passes. The second Krauss-to-Spencer connection enabled Albion to gain a fresh set of downs despite a holding penalty on a screen pass. On a second down play from the Albion 47-yard line, Clinton Orr found room around the right end and raced 53 yards to the end zone for the game's first touchdown.
Another three-and-out by the Albion defense set the offense up at its 46. Krauss threw twice to Zach Brewer (Adrian/Madison) on the drive, with the second aerial resulting in a 22-yard touchdown as Albion jumped out to a 14-0 lead with 7:46 left in the first half.
The Adrian offense made an adjustment late in the first half as Justin Hemm took some snaps at quarterback and the Bulldogs went to a read-option attack. Hemm gashed the Britons for 19 yards on a second down play, and the drive finished with a 27-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Miller to Isiah Cross.
Adrian continued to hold the momentum at the start of the second half and the Bulldog defense forced a three-and-out on Albion's first possession. The Bulldogs marched 68 yards in nine plays to tie the score at 14. Danny Cobb set up the score with a 43-yard gain to the Albion 2. Damon Brown gained the final yard on the touchdown drive with a fourth down rush over the right end.
Albion responded nicely as Krauss converted on third down with a nine-yard pass to Spencer. Orr gained 12 yards on the next play to move the ball close to midfield. Albion caught a break when Adrian was flagged for pass interference on a third down play. Albion took advantage as Wes Dolen rumbled 23 yards for the score as Albion never surrendered the lead.
"It was good that Wes Dolen stepped in when we needed him. Clinton a got little banged up and Wes stepped in, that was a big drive," Rundle said.
The Albion defense tacked on the final score of the night as Derek Jackson was in the right place to intercept Miller's screen pass that had been tipped by the receiver. Jackson returned the interception 35 yards for his first collegiate touchdown.
"It was good to see Derek get a play like that," Rundle said. "He's had some tough luck. He's persevered. It was a big play by Derek Jackson to give us a two touchdown cushion."
Adrian's final three possessions were thwarted by interceptions by John Lesinski, Wes Sherman, and Mike Vandermus.
Albion finished with a 368-367 edge in total offense. Orr (26 carries, 149 yards) and Dolen (13 carries, 87 yards) helped the Britons roll up 234 yards on the ground. Krauss and Alex Harris combined to complete 12 passes for 134 yards. Brewer hauled in six passes for 80 yards.