November 12, 2011

Albion Puts Exclamation Point on MIAA Title

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ALBION, Mich. - Albion College's desire to gain sole possession of the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association football championship was clearly evident from the opening kickoff as it put the exclamation point on its 34th league title with a 41-14 victory over Trine University in front of a packed house at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium.

"We talked about (the outright MIAA title) all week," Albion Coach Craig Rundle admitted after the contest. "We didn't want to share it with anyone. Trine has been a great team the last three years, winning the league and doing it outright themselves. We thought we could measure ourselves pretty well if we could do the same thing."

Mike Vandermus recovered Trine's fumble on the opening kickoff and it took the Britons five plays to cover the 24 yards for their first touchdown of the day. Clinton Orr carried the bulk of the load, gaining 16 yards on the drive including the final three yards for the score.

Albion extended the margin to 10-0 as it ripped off an eight-play drive on its next possession. Orr gashed the Thunder on runs of 11 and 17 yards to set up Nick Pendell's 35-yard field goal.

Jason Bajas' strip sack led to Albion's third first-quarter score. The Britons took possession at the Trine 14, but had to settle for Pendell's 26-yard field goal.

The Albion offense took full advantage of John Lesinski's interception early in the second quarter. Spencer Krauss hooked up with Brian Spencer for an 11-yard gain on the first play to move the ball to the Trine 15. Krauss executed the quarterback sneak perfectly on fourth down from the Trine 6 and he capped the drive by rolling out to the right side for a 1-yard run.

Trine went to a faster tempo on offense late in the first half and it paid off in the form of an eight-play, 75-yard scoring drive. Ryan Hargraves completed five passes on the possession, including a 25-yard touchdown strike to Ja Vontae Hence.

Both teams had just two possessions in the third quarter. Albion extended the lead to 27-7 by scoring on its second possession. The Britons overcame a holding penalty as Krauss hit Zach Brewer for a 28-yard gain to the Trine 4. After two Orr carries moved to ball close to the goal line, Wes Dolen plunged the final yard for the score.

Albion scored on its first two possessions of the fourth quarter as Krauss found Spencer for a 16-yard score and seniors Alex Harris and Matt Gunsorek hooked up for a 4-yard play.

Orr posted his second 200-yard rushing game of the season to become Albion's career rushing leader. Only a junior, Orr has rolled up 3,163 yards in 28 games.

The Albion defense accepted at the challenge of holding Kent Biller, the MIAA's fourth-leader rusher, to 81 yards. Linebackers Brett McCarty and Lesinski finished with 13 and 10 tackles, respectively. Jacob Heinrich wrapped up two sacks and batted down two passes. Bajas also wrapped up two sacks.

Albion, 6-4 overall and 6-0 against its MIAA rivals, will receive its itinerary for the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship at 6 p.m. Sunday. The selections will be announced via live stream on www.NCAA.com.

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