The Albion College football team had their fair share of special teams miscues and a sluggish first half on both sides of the ball, however none of that mattered after fifth-year senior quarterback Spencer Krauss threw a touchdown pass in the final two minutes to secure a 22-21 upset victory over nationally ranked Wheaton College.
"Our team grew up a lot," Albion Head Coach Craig Rundle said. "You need games like this if you are going to be a playoff-caliber team. Wheaton provided a good measuring stick and we rose to the occasion."
The Britons started the scoring with a 23-yard field goal by senior kicker Jimmy Neiman, which capped a seven play, 54-yard drive that ran 3:52 off the clock.
The Albion defense forced a punt on Wheaton?s next offensive possession and got the ball back at their 39 yard line.
Senior running backs Clinton Orr and Darrin Williams helped the Britons find the end zone after taking over on offense. The dynamic duo combined for 62 yards during the drive late in the first quarter.
Orr capped the nine play, 73-yard offensive possession with a six-yard touchdown run to put the Britons up 9-0. The extra point attempt was blocked to keep the Albion lead at nine points with 29 seconds remaining in the first quarter of play.
Things took a turn for the worse after Orr's touchdown as the Britons saw their lead vanish after three straight Wheaton touchdown drives, in addition to being helped by Krauss tossing his first interception of the 2012 season.
Wheaton took a 21-9 lead into the break, but they were unable to match Albion?s effort in the second half.
The Britons had the first possession of the second half and gave the Wheaton defense a heavy dose of Orr that allowed Albion to march down the field on a 19 play, 89-yard drive ate up 10:32 of the third quarter.
Orr finished the drive off with a one-yard rush and carried the ball 29 times for 133 yards on the day.
"We ran the ball real well in the first quarter and got behind in field position in the second," Rundle said. "We knew we could dominate the line of scrimmage and we made a point of that on the first drive of the second half. That was a great drive and the offensive line took over the game at that point."
Albion's defense answered the call once again late in the game. With 4:58 remaining in the game, senior defensive back Wes Dolen picked off a pass at the Wheaton 48 yard line and returned it 11 yards to set the Britons up with a chance to win the game.
Krauss and the Britons drove the ball to the Wheaton 21 yard line before facing a fourth down and nine situation, which would be their last chance to upset the Thunder.
After an Albion timeout, Krauss saw his opportunity to burn the Wheaton defense and capitalized with a perfectly thrown spiral to the end zone right at junior wide receiver Zach Brewer, who hauled in the 21-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 21-21.
Krauss finished the game 12-of-20 for 104 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Freshman kicker Keegan Haggarty put the extra point right through the uprights to put Albion up 22-21 and put the game into the hands of the Briton defense with only 1:26 left in the fourth quarter.
Senior defensive linemen Tom Strautz and C.J. Carroll both came up with critical sacks on Wheaton?s final possession to ice the game and help the Britons earn the upset victory.
Albion will take its 2-0 record to Benedictine (Ill.) University for another non-conference match-up next Saturday.