October 8, 2011

Greenwood, Paksi Push Albion Past Alma

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ALBION, Mich. – Cornerback Chris Greenwood was tired of watching the Albion College defense get nickel-and-dimed by Alma College's hitch routes.  Greenwood jumped a sideline route and returned an interception 70 yards for the winning score as the Britons eked out a 27-26 victory over their Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association rival.

The victory was not complete, however, until Julian Paksi blocked Alma's extra point kick with eight seconds remaining. Undeterred by Greenwood's pick six, Alma marched 69 yards in 11 plays. The Scots' scoring drive was capped by Jarrett Leister's 2-yard strike to Barak Henderson.

Greenwood covered Henderson, the MIAA's leading receiver, like a blanket in the first half. Alma moved Henderson to the slot to free him for seven catches that covered 124 yards, but the Scots didn't account for Greenwood on a third down snap from the Albion 35-yard line.

"Chris is always ready when they throw his way," Albion Coach Craig Rundle said after collecting his 82nd win to pass Morley Fraser for second place on the school victories ladder. "Chris was locked on Barak Henderson in the first half and Henderson didn't catch a meaningful pass. They put Henderson in the slot to get him away from Chris. That was a huge play because we needed a spark."

The first half didn't feature much offense – Spencer Krauss hooked up with J.C. Cruse on a 70-yard pitch and sprint down the sideline – as Albion led 7-3 after 30 minutes.

Albion extended the lead to 10-3 as Clinton Orr returned the second half kickoff 76 yards to the Alma 11 and the Britons settled for a 26-yard field goal by Nick Pendell.

The Briton defense stuffed Alma running back Ed Mason on a fourth down play from the Albion 5-yard line, but the offense was unable to gain a first down of its own. The Albion punter was not able to handle the low snap at the back of the end zone resulting in a safety.

Alma needed just five plays after the free kick to score its first touchdown and vault into the lead, 13-10. Jarrett Leister's 36-yard strike to Henderson moved the Scots to the Albion 1, and Ed Mason ran into the end zone on the next play.

In one of the themes of the afternoon, Albion's offense answered. Krauss completed a 34-yard pass to Zach Brewer and Orr followed with a 12-yard gain on the ground. Orr hauled in a short screen pass over the middle from Krauss and he cut to the sideline for a 32-yard touchdown that put Albion back in front 17-13.

The offense went to work again after Alma's 12-play, 76-yard drive to go up 20-17, as Albion moved in position for Pendell's 35-yard field goal to tie the score at 20 with 8:17 left in the game. Brian Spencer was the key receiver, hauling in passes of 22, 7, and 9 yards.

"We were erratic on offense," Rundle said. "We did good things in spurts. I was disappointed with our performance in the red zone. We left points out there by failing to finish drives."

The Albion defense took the ball away from Alma three times. Mike Vandermus forced and recovered a fumble when he sacked Leister and Devin Burnett stopped the Scots' first possession with a fumble recovery.

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