Albion, Mich. - The Alma College football team erased a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit against Albion College to win 32-28 on Saturday (Oct. 5) afternoon. The Scots (3-1, 1-0) outgained Albion 201-26 in the fourth quarter and scored touchdowns on their last three possessions to earn their first win over the Britons since 2016 and their second in the last nine years.
In a matchup between the MIAA's top two rushing teams, Alma outgained Albion 291-170 on the ground. Quarterback Ryan Stevens (Lowell, Mich. / Lowell) and running back Austin Spratling (Grand Rapids, Mich. / Wyoming Kelloggsville) each posted double-digit carries; Stevens ran for a career-best 108 yards and two touchdowns. Spratling was also the team's leading receiver with four catches for 78 yards and one touchdown; he had a career-high 152 yards from scrimmage.
Alma also forced three Albion turnovers, two of which came in the fourth quarter. Down 15 early in the fourth, Colin Smith (Westphalia, Mich. / Pewamo-Westphalia) picked off Kyle Thomas, leading to the first of Alma's three fourth-quarter touchdowns - a four-yard run from Stevens.
After forcing another Albion stop, Alma scored in four plays, capping the drive with a 59-yard TD pass from Stevens to Spratling to get to within three points at 28-25. Albion also ran four plays on the following possession but was sacked on two of them, forcing the Britons to give the ball back to Alma with 2:12 remaining. The Scots only needed 52 seconds to score and take the lead when Stevens broke off a 35-yard run on a designed quarterback draw to give the Scots a four-point lead just before the two-minute warning.
Albion had only gotten to their own 31-yard line before Alma intercepted Thomas for the third time. Thomas was looking to complete a pass to Kolby Canfield but Zeke Ramirez (Homer, Mich. / Homer) wrestled the ball away from Canfield was in the process of catching it. Alma would kneel out the clock to win. The Scots held the conference's best passing offense to under their season average of 246 yards per game.
The game was slow to start: Alma kicked two field goals in its first three possessions while holding the Britons to two three-and-outs. When Albion threatened to score at Alma's 15-yard line, Thomas was intercepted at the goal line by Michael Hallada (Lakeview, Mich. / Lakeview). On the ensuing drive, Chase Hinkle (Concord, Mich. / Concord) broke off a 41-yard run off a jet sweep to make it 13-0.
Albion would go on to score 28 unanswered points on its next four possessions, including two just before halftime following a blocked 47-yard field goal attempt by Alma. Outside of those four Briton drives, Alma held Thomas to 5-of-13 passing with three interceptions.
Jack Carter (Harbor Springs, Mich. / Harbor Springs), Stephen White (Hartland, Mich. / Cheryl Stockwell) and Patrick Hite (Michigan Center, Mich. / Michigan Center) registered Alma's three sacks for a combined 32 yards. In addition to his interception, Ramirez made a game-high 12 tackles. Dustin Soloman (Macomb, Mich. / Dakota) picked up 65 yards on six carries, including a 31-yard run. Joseph Schaefer (Lowell, Mich. / Lowell) posted six catches for 72 yards.
Alma returns to Bahlke Field next Saturday (Oct. 12) to host the Trine University (IN) Thunder at 6:00 p.m. Trine, like Albion, was tied for second in the MIAA's preseason poll, but fell to Hope 51-0 this week.