Coach Jeff McMartin has long believed that statistics often don't tell the story of a football game.
He got some ammunition for his argument Saturday as Central College saw its chances for a win slip away in the Michigan rain in a 35-16 defeat at Albion College (Mich.).
The Dutch (1-2), controlled the ball for more than 37 of the game's 60 minutes and outgained Albion 412 yards to 288. And Central punted just twice. The most revealing number Saturday was turnovers, as the Dutch lost that battle 4-1. Central was also flagged for eight penalties.
"You have to do things right," coach Jeff McMartin said. "We didn't do things right. We had far too many turnovers, far too many penalties, gave up too many big plays and paid a steep price.
"You can look at all kinds of stats. You can look at some and say, 'Boy, we had a nice game.' But if you look at the stats that, in my mind, really matter—penalties and turnovers—those didn't bode well for us today."
Albion (3-1) also got a 90-yard kickoff return for a score on the opening kickoff as it maintained the upper hand most of the way. The Britons had touchdowns on three of their first four possessions and held a 21-7 lead at halftime. Central drove 49 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown on its opening possession, with Blaine Forsythe (sophomore, Pella) snagging a 6-yard Jack Flaherty (senior, Burlington) TD pass. But the Dutch were then held scoreless until the fourth quarter.
A 32-yard fourth-quarter field goal by Kevin Sheldon (sophomore, West Des Moines, Valley HS), followed 1:30 later by a 43-yard Josh Osborn (sophomore, Burlington) TD run let the Dutch crawl to within 21-16 with 10:52 remaining.
"I felt like we were in a great situation early in the fourth quarter," McMartin said. "Even at halftime, we said, 'Listen, we're in good shape here.' It was still a 14-point game and other than giving up the long kickoff return, we were hanging in there. We had some things we felt like we could do and were heading in the right direction."
Central regained possession with 8:08 left but a chance to take the lead was stymied by an interception and, one play later, an Albion touchdown.
"Even after that turnover, there was still time," McMartin said. "But we really didn't bounce back from that."
Another Central pass was then picked off and the Dutch surrendered the ball on downs to set up a clinching Albion score.
Osborn finished with 118 yards and one TD on 15 carries. Running back Ross Doehrmann (senior, Williamsburg) had 80 yards on 16 attempts.
Flaherty was four-of-four on Central's opening drive, but finished nine-of-16 for 84 yards with three intereceptions and one score. Sophomore Aaron Eiseler (Mesa, Ariz., Red Mountain HS) completed eight-of-nine passes for 82 yards. Junior Austin Blom (junior, Mountain Pointe, Ariz., Pride HS) threw two late incompletions.
Freshman Brendon Boerm (Traer, North Tama HS) had five receptions for 53 yards while tight end Jack Norgaard (sophomore, Naperville, Ill., Neuqua Valley HS) had five catches for 40 yards.
"We ran the ball effectively," McMartin said. "But we've got to continue to work on the passing game and get better at that."
Albion freshman quarterback Dominic Bona, in his first career start, completed nine of 15 passes for 160 yards and one touchdown.
Dutch linebacker Seth Carson (senior, Woddridge, Ill., Downers Grove South HS) had six tackles, including 1.5 for loss, while junior Jacob Edleman (junior, Mechanicsville, North Cedar HS) and linebacker Mike Young (junior, Country Club Hills, Ill., Hillcrest HS) each had five stops. Young also had 2.5 tackles for loss.
"We've given up big plays in every game and we've got to stop that," McMartin said. "But we did a great job on third down and in containing the running game."
Albion rushed for 128 yards and was only one-of-nine on third-down conversions.
Central opens Iowa Conference play at home Saturday against the defending league champions, the University of Dubuque. The Spartans are 1-2 after enjoying an open date Saturday. They overwhelmed the Dutch at Dubuque last year, 56-28. It will be homecoming at Central, with the game starting at 1 p.m. at Ron and Joyce Schipper Stadium.
"There are a lot of things we have to get better at," McMartin said. "We've got to cut down on penalties, we've got to stop giving up big plays and we've got to find ways to be effective when we get inside the 30-yard line. When we do that, we'll do well."