ALBION, Mich. – The defense came up with a stop in the final minute for the second time in three weeks as Albion eked out a 30-25 victory over Adrian in a Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association football game at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium.
Adrian was in the red zone at the 14-yard line with 30 seconds left when David Van Ittersum stripped the ball from quarterback Stephen Millarch and Dallis Reynolds pounced on the fumble.
Albion had an idea Millarch would be rolling on the play when it sent in the David Nutter huddle.
"We knew time was in our favor so we worked to keep everything in front of us," Albion Head Coach Craig Rundle said. "Dave did a good job of coming underneath off a block and put a hit on the quarterback."
Albion scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:27 left as Mike Czarnecki capped a five-play drive with an 8-yard run. Dominic Bona hooked up with Mikal McKoy for a 36-yard gain and Czarnecki scored on the next play.
"We made enough plays when we needed to," Rundle said.
Colin Parks scored on runs of 2 and 20 yards as Albion held a 14-12 halftime lead. For the most part, though, Adrian slowed Albion's offense which came in averaging nearly 608 yards per game. Parks finished with 102 yards and averaged nearly seven yards per attempt. Czarnecki gashed Adrian for 84 yards for an average of four yards per carry.
"Adrian is at the top of the conference in rushing defense," Rundle said. "We knew it wasn't going to be easy."
The teams exchanged the lead in the second half. Emmanuel Stewart, who finished with 226 rushing yards, ripped off a 42-yard touchdown run on the opening possession as Adrian seized a 19-14 lead. Albion answered with a six-play drive capped by a 13-yard pass from Bona to Jon Alandt.
Albion missed an opportunity to build the margin to eight points the next time the offense got the ball. Bona hooked up with Kyle Slotnick in the flat three times as Albion moved the ball to Adrian's 1-yard line. The Britons tried running plays with Parks and Czarnecki and a Bona pass fell incomplete as they had to settle for a 19-yard field goal from first-year kicker Andrew Fabry to make the score 24-19 late in the third quarter.
Milarch took the reins, leading the Bulldogs on a 9-play drive, and he scored on a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Running the wildcat formation, Stewart's pass for the two-point conversion was broken up in the end zone and Adrian settled for a 25-24 lead.
Bona had an effective day passing, completing 22-of-34 attempts for 229 yards. McKoy hauled in five passes for 63 yards, while Slotnick added four receptions for 64 yards.
Albion, 6-0 for the first time since the 1996 season, has another home game next week as it tackles Trine University at 1 p.m.
"I haven't heard anybody in the locker room talking about our record," Rundle said. "Our guys are level-headed and they know we don't get extra credit for what our record is."