Last Saturday afternoon was cold and rainy in Holland as the Albion College Britons traveled to face their northern rivals, the Hope College Flying Dutchmen, in a clash of Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) football.
Both teams came into the matchup with a 1-0 record in the MIAA. The Brits were coming off a 44-17 victory over Kalamazoo College on Sept. 30 and came into the game with a demanding 5-0 record. Hope, on the other hand, dropped their season opener to Aurora University 17-38 and haven’t looked back since, holding a record of 4-1 with a 30-21 win over Adrian College last weekend.
In meeting number 95 for these two teams, tension filled the air as the rivals took the stage. Albion won the coin toss and elected to defer to the second half, sending their stout defense onto the field first.
Albion had a strong defensive stand to open the game led by the defensive line and Lansing senior linebacker Jayth Joseph, who ended with eight tackles on the day.
The Brits would take the field on offense and reigning MIAA Athlete of the Week, Pinckney sophomore quarterback Luke Lovell would complete his first pass of the day to get the offense rolling. Soon after, Lovell would complete a huge first down conversion to his frequent target, Caledonia sophomore Devin Fridley-Bell, for one of his five catches on the day. Despite the strong start to the opening offensive drive from Albion, they came up empty-handed and had to punt away.
Hope would take up seven minutes on their next drive, which would end on a touchdown run from running back Chance Strickland, to put them on the scoreboard first leading 7-0. Strickland would end with 93 total rushing yards. The touchdown was possible after a spectacular catch by wide receiver Travis Myers from quarterback Zach Trainor.
The second quarter would not be ideal for the Britons as errors filled the stat sheet. With 13 minutes to go in the half, Hope punted to Albion, which resulted in a muffed catch and Hope getting the ball back inside the Britons’ 35 yard line.
Albion’s defense, however, would stand strong and force Hope to punt back to them in hopes of an offense surge.
After a big run from Reed City fifth-year running back Philip Jones-Price for 20 yards and a pass from Lovell to East Lansing senior and wide receiver Kye Bristow, Albion found themselves at the Hope five yard line, itching to get on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, a holding penalty set the Brits back 10 yards which ended the drive in a field goal from Niles sophomore kicker Logan Grwinski. The Brits now trailed 7-3.
Another defensive stand from the Brits gave them the ball back with just under two minutes to play in the half in hopes of their offense making another drive into Hope territory. A three-and-out would force an Albion punt, giving Hope the ball back with under a minute to play before half-time.
Hope would rally and drive down into Albion territory scoring on a 13 yard touchdown pass from Trainor to Myers with 17 seconds to go. Hope took a demanding 14-3 lead into halftime.
The second half would start fairly slow for both teams as the Britons got the ball and their offense struggles continued as they punted away after three quick plays. Waterford freshman punter Chris Bowman had an outing for punting as he averaged 51 yards per punt with a season record long punt of 68 yards.
Albion would tack on another three points after a 46 yard field goal from Grwinski. The score was Hope 14 and Albion six heading into the last quarter of play.
A battle of defensive stands forced each team to punt back and forth to each other for most of the fourth quarter. Finally, with roughly one minute and 40 seconds left on the clock, Albion had their last chance to tie the game. A huge pass from Lovell to Bristow put Albion on the 50 yard line. Another big play would put Albion in position for one last opportunity. On 4 and 3 from the Hope 15 yard line and the endzone in near sight, Lovell fired an incomplete pass that gave Hope back the ball for the win.
Hope took a knee and won the game as emotions flared on the field, resulting in Bristow’s ejection.
A struggling outing from the Albion offense and a dominant performance from the Hope defense forced the Brits’ first loss of the season.
Lovell would end with 207 passing yards and his favorite two targets, Bristow and Fridley-Bell would end with five catches for 62 yards a piece. Jones-Price would end the day with 62 total rushing yards on 19 carries. Grand Rapids senior and defensive lineman Eddie Hines would lead the force on defense with 11 total tackles while Pinckney sophomore and fellow defensive lineman Alex Olenik would end with nine.
On the other side of the ball, Hope’s Trainor would end with 184 passing yards and one touchdown. Myers would end with 39 yards and one touchdown and fellow wide receiver Grant Holtzer would end with 81 receiving yards.
In the end, the Britons lost 14-6 to the Flying Dutchmen.
Albion moves to 5-1 on the season and 1-1 in conference play. Hope moves to 5-1 as well but with a 2-0 record in the conference. Albion will have a game off this weekend and will return to action when they host a conference foe, Trine University, on Oct. 21.
Editor’s Note: 10:32 a.m. Monday, Oct. 9. The original publication of this article at 9 a.m. on Monday, Oct. 9 did not have the final score of the game. This has been corrected.