ALBION, Mich.--Sophomore Emmanuel Stewart ran for a season-high 226 yards on Saturday, but nationally-ranked Albion College used a fourth-quarter comeback to escape with a 30-25 Homecoming win over Adrian College at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium.
With the win, Albion (No. 24 American Football Coaches' Association/#RV D3football.com) remains in the race for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship with a 3-0 conference slate as part of a 6-0 overall record. Adrian, the defending MIAA champion, has alternated wins and losses through its first six games and is now 1-2 in the league.
Senior linebacker Dontrell Tucker's career-high 17 tackles (14 solo) led a Bulldogs' defense that held the Britons far below their season averages of 323 rushing yards and 608 total yards to 198 and 427, respectively, today. Senior linebacker John Carlin added 13 stops and sophomore defensive lineman Damon Fuller contributed nine tackles, including a six-yard sack.
Mike Czarnecki, who rushed for 84 yards on 21 attempts, scored the go-ahead touchdown from eight yards out with 3 minutes, 27 seconds left in the fourth quarter. After the failed 2-point conversion, the Britons held a 30-25 lead.
After a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty by Czarnecki that forced Albion to kick off from its 20, a 20-yard return by senior Tyler Bruce gave Adrian great field position at the 50 and a chance for the game-winning drive. The Bulldogs drove down to the Albion 15 on 10 plays--keyed by a junior Stephen Milarch pass completion to senior Ryan Betz for 10 yards on a 3rd-and-8--but the comeback was halted as David Van Ittersum forced a fumble and teammate Dallis Reynolds recovered. The Britons ran out the final 22 seconds to preserve the win.
Offensively for Adrian, Milarch called his own number 18 times for 62 yards and Betz caught five passes for 65 yards.
Colin Parks staked Albion to 7-0 lead with 5:48 left in the first quarter, capping a 13-play, 59-yard drive in 3:48 elapsed time. He finished with 102 yards on 15 carries.
A blocked punt by freshman linebacker Kevon Spence gave the Adrian offense great starting field position at the Albion 23 to set up the Bulldogs first touchdown of the afternoon. After four plays, Stewart scored on a 9-yard run to help Adrian pull within 7-6 at 12:01 to go in the second quarter.
Albion took a 14-6 lead at the 3:45 mark as Parks scampered for a 20-yard TD, finishing an eight-play drive that covered 65 yards in 2:28.
Adrian, however, responded on the ensuing possession 45 seconds later as Stewart ran 65 yards for his second TD of the game to close the scoring for both teams in the first half. Albion led 14-12.
The Bulldogs began the second half in great field position at their own 44 after Albion had to kick off from its 20 following an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Britons sideline to end the first half. Five plays later, Stewart had another long TD rush – this time for 42 yards – as Adrian took its first lead, 19-14, with 12:13 to go in the third quarter.
But the Britons reclaimed the lead on their next possession as Jon Alandt received a 13-yard TD pass from Dominic Bona. Albion's scoring drive lasted six plays for 65 yards. Albion took a 21-19 advantage with 9:54 in the third.
On Albion's next possession, the Adrian defense came up big to keep it from being a two-score game as the home team settled for an Andrew Fabry 19-yard field goal to make it 24-19 with 86 ticks remaining in the third. The 17-play, 85-yard drive that consumed 6:51 stalled at the Adrian 1 after the Britons couldn't punch into the end zone on three plays from the 2.
The defensive stand led the Bulldogs' offense to re-taking the lead early in the fourth quarter. Adrian marched 56 yards in nine plays over a 3:07 span as Milarch punctuated the scoring drive with a 2-yard plunge for a 25-24 advantage after a missed two-point conversion at 13:14.
Bona threw for 229 yards on 22 completions in 34 attempts. His favorite target was Mikal McKoy who had five catches for 63 yards, and Kyle Slotnick had four and 64.
David Simon (8 solo) and Collin Ahrens (7 solo) had 10 tackles apiece for the Albion defense, which allowed 330 of Adrian's 400 total yards via the ground.
Albion led 27 to 19 in first downs, but Adrian controlled the ball 3:06 more.
The Bulldogs continue a three-game road swing next Saturday at Wisconsin Lutheran for a non-MIAA encounter in Milwaukee, starting at 1 p.m.