November 7, 2015

Albright Football - Lions edge Stevenson and find themselves in first place

A Pboto
OWINGS MILLS, Md. – The Albright defense heard all week long about the Stevenson defense and its ability to create turnovers. And with good reason as the Mustangs led the nation in defensive takeaways entering Saturday’s game. But nobody in Division III has more defensive touchdowns than Albright and the Lions remained true to form as JaVaughn Patterson picked off two passes, returning one for a touchdown, as the Lions kept their Middle Atlantic Conference title hopes alive with a 30-26 victory over Stevenson at Mustang Stadium.

The Lions victory over the Mustangs, coupled with Lycoming’s 43-42 win against Delaware Valley, leaves Albright in the driver’s seat for the conference championship. The Lions control their own destiny in search of their first NCAA playoff berth since the 2009 season.

Patterson returned an interception 95 yards in the second quarter and then sealed the victory with an interception late in the fourth quarter. His interception return for a score was the Lions sixth defensive touchdown of the season, which leads Division III.

Albright improved to 8-1 overall and 7-1 in the Middle Atlantic Conference and sits alone in first place in the standings with just one week remaining in the regular season. Stevenson dropped to 7-2 overall and 6-2 in conference play.

It was an inauspicious beginning to the game for the Lions as Stevenson took the opening drive and marched 88 yards in 17 plays to take a 7-0 lead.

Brad Harmon capped the drive, which took 9:20 off the first quarter clock, by finding Seth Jordan from a yard out with 5:40 left in the quarter.

On the Mustangs second drive, Donte Thomas intercepted a Harmon pass to set the Lions up in excellent field position.

Albright’s drive stalled, but Daniel Sobolewski tied his own school record by connecting from 52 yards out to cut the Stevenson lead to 7-3 with 15 seconds remaining in the opening period. It marked Sobolewski’s third career 52-yard field goal.

Albright appeared to have committed a costly turnover early in the second quarter when Mike Knight was intercepted by Jimmy Lauer and the Mustangs took over on the Lions 39-yard line.

Stevenson drove to the Albright 1-yard line and on 4th-and-1 tried a trick play with running back Paki Brown throwing a pass to Harmon, but Patterson intercepted the tipped pass and raced 95 yards for a touchdown giving the Lions a 10-7 lead.

After forcing a Stevenson punt, Albright took over on midfield.

Facing a 4th-and-1 at the Stevenson 46-yard line the Lions used a fake punt to gain the first down as Steve Barroso scampered 30 yards on the fake. Knight capped the scoring drive when he connected with Josh MacLeod on a shuttle pass from a yard out to increase the Lions lead to 17-7 with 4:09 to play in the second quarter.

The Mustangs wasted little time in getting back into the game as Harmon found a streaking Preston Addo for a 59-yard touchdown pass that cut the Lions lead to 17-14.

Another Lion miscue led to Stevenson taking the lead into halftime.

A low snap couldn’t be handled by punter Kevin Goetz and he fell on the ball on the Albright 2-yard line. Stevenson needed just one play to regain the lead as Kiandre Burrell leaped over the pile and into the end zone giving the Mustangs a 21-17 lead.

Albright responded by taking the opening kick of the third quarter and marching 75 yards in 10 plays to regain the lead.

The drive, which consumed 4:41 and included a 24-yard reception by Gerrod Gainer and a 22-yard scamper by Chris Dawson, was capped when Dawson raced 12 yards for a touchdown that gave the Lions the lead for good at 23-21.

Albright increased the lead late in the third quarter.

The Lions went 59 yards in nine plays, aided by a 2-yard run by Knight on a fourth down play, and Dawson raced in from 19 yards out to push the Albright lead to 30-21 lead with 1:46 to play in the third quarter.

Stevenson climbed to within 30-24 when Tim Sternfeld converted a 30-yard field goal with 6:36 remaining on the clock.

After an Albright punt, Stevenson took over on its own 4-yard line and trailing 30-24. The Mustangs moved the ball to midfield where an interception by Thomas appeared to wrap up the victory, but the Lions were called for a roughing the passer penalty which kept the Mustangs drive alive. Patterson then clinched the victory two plays later when he intercepted a pass along the sideline with 58 seconds left to play.

Albright took an intentional safety when Knight ran out of the end zone with two seconds left to play.

Stevenson attempted several laterals on the ensuing kickoff but Albright finally recovered a fumble to end the game.

Dawson led the Lions offensive attack as he rushed for a season-high 94 yards and two touchdowns as Albright churned out 173 yards on the ground.

Senior Colton Ryan paced the defense with 10 tackles, while Kevin Mason finished with eight tackles and Barroso had seven tackles, a fumble recovery and a pass defended. Patterson finished with five tackles in addition to his two interceptions.

Albright will play its regular season finale on Saturday (Nov. 14) when it hosts Lebanon Valley at 1 p.m. in Shirk Stadium on Senior Day.