ALBION, Mich. - Penalties and turnovers are football team's worst enemies, and it was Trine University's kryptonite on Saturday as they fell 41-14 to Albion College. The loss ends the Thunder's season at 7-3 and 3-3 in the conference.
It was not a good start to the day for the Thunder as Ja Vontae Hence (Elkhart, Ind./Concord) fumbled the opening kickoff, as the Britons recovered at the Trine 24. Albion would score just five plays later on a run by Clinton Orr to give the Britons the early lead.
Trine was forced to punt on their next possession and the Britons would again begin driving down the field. The Trine defense was able to come up with a stop on third down forcing Albion to settle for a 35 yard field goal.
On the ensuing possession, quarterback Ryan Hargraves (Taylor, Mich./Truman) was under pressure and the Britons defense again came up with a forced fumble and recovered the ball at the Trine 15. The Trine defense came up big once again as they held Albion to once again settled for a field goal.
The bad luck continued for the Thunder as on their first play of their next possession, Hargraves threw the ball right to an Albion defender as he easily intercepted the pass as the Britons again started with a short field. The Britons went just 26 yards capped off by a one yard run.
Trine was finally able to get the offense going as they ran a no-huddle offense with two minutes left in the half. The Thunder drove down the field capped off by a touchdown pass from Hargraves to Hence. Hence juked out an Albion player at 15 and ran in untouched to the end zone put the Thunder on the board as they trail 20-7 at the half.
The Britons started the second half driving down the field within scoring range but the Thunder defense would come up big. Myron Puryear (Plymouth, Mich./Canton) picked off the Albion pass at the six yard line ending the Britons scoring opportunity. The Thunder were unable to get anything going on the ensuing possession and were forced to once again punt. Albion drove down the field as Wes Dolan scored from just a yard out.
On the following possession, the Thunder initially stalled on their first set of downs but decided to go for it on fourth down and one deep in their own territory. Hargraves kept the ball and pushed the pile forward for the first down. That would be all the Thunder could muster as they would be forced to punt again. Albion would score on the ensuing possession on a 16 yard touchdown pass.
Despite their playoff game coming next week, the Britons kept their starters in on their final possession as they capped off the game as they again drove down the field, finishing off the drive with a four yard touchdown pass.
Trine would score on the final play of the game as Mario Hernandez (Bronson, Mich./Bronson) capped off the final play of the game with a two yard touchdown reception as time expired.
Trine amassed more first downs, 21-to-17, and took more offensive snap, 70-to-56 while having the ball for nearly four more minutes than Albion. But it was field position that gave the Britons the upper hand as they averaged a starting position of their own 49. The Britons rushed for 212 yards compared to 159 for the Thunder. Trine out-passed Albion 157-to-134. Trine finished the afternoon 8-for-15 on third downs while the Britons were 7-for-12.
Hargraves finished his afternoon completing 19-of-29 for 157 yards, but was sacked four times. Senior Kent Biller (Nappanee, Ind./Northwood) wrapped up his Trine career leading the team with 81 yards. Will Chrystal led the Trine receivers with five catches for 51 yards. Hence and Hernandez each hauled in four catches.
Freshman Kyle Monk (Churubusco, Ind./Churubusco) led the Trine defense with nine tackles (five solo). Puryear added in eight tackles (five solo) to go along with his fifth interception of the year.
Biller finishes his Trine career as the second all-time leading rusher in school history with 2,693 yards.
The loss snaps the Thunder 12 game regular season road winning streak and a four game winning streak over the Britons. The 41 points by Albion is the most Trine has allowed since Wisconsin-Whitewater scored 45 against the Thunder in last season's NCAA playoff game and the most they have scored on the Thunder since the 2005 season.