by Odille Parker
An explosive offense and powerful defensive stand propelled the Hope College football team to a 29-24 win at unbeaten Albion College on Saturday.
Sophomore cornerback Chandler Brown of Woodstock, Georgia (Carlton J. Kell HS), pictured, ended Albion's last drive with a third-down interception at the Britons 9-yard line with 57 seconds remaining.
The Flying Dutchmen improved to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association play.
"It's tough to win road games, especially at Albion, but I'm proud of all the guys for the way they came out to play," head coach Peter Stuursma said.
Junior quarterback Mason Opple of Hudsonville, Michigan (Hudsonville HS) led the offense with a career-high 248 passing yards and 68 rushing yards, including a 1-yard rushing touchdown on 4th-and-goal in the fourth quarter.
Opple also caught a 17-yard pass for a touchdown on a trick play from junior wide receiver Christian Bos of Hudsonville, Michigan (Unity Christian).
Opple connected with junior wide receiver Korey Derr of Grand Rapids, Michigan (Northview) for his first touchdown reception of the season to give the Flying Dutchmen the lead in their opening drive.
Bos also had a standout game with a collegiate-high 124 receiving yards. He was second in rushing with 50 yards.
Freshman Evan Johnson of Okemos, Michigan (Holt) kicked a 37-yard field goal at the end of the first half to give Hope a 17-14 halftime lead. The Flying Dutchmen drove 59 yards in 1:20 to set up Johnson for the go-ahead score.
The Flying Dutchmen rebounded after a 35-25 loss against Trine University at home last week.
"We knew we had to move on from last week and put all of our efforts into today," Stuursma said. "The team really responded after a tough week of practice and performed well in a tough situation."
The back end of the defense came up big with a season-high four interceptions.
Senior defensive back Kimani Dooley from Detroit, Michigan (Clarenceville HS) had his first interception of the season on 3rd and 4 for the Britons and returned it for 20 yards. He had another interception late in the fourth quarter.
Stuursma said this was notably special for Dooley, who injured his knee at Sprankle-Sprandel Stadium two years ago.
Senior defensive back Kyle Krumm of Okemos, Michigan (Okemos) had the other interception early in the fourth quarter. This was his fifth career interception, and he was a leader in the team's overall defense with two key pass breakups.
The Flying Dutchmen also held Albion's high-scoring offense to only two field goals on the second half. The Britons (4-1, 1-1 MIAA) entered averaging a league-high 52.3 points per game.
Hope's next game is at Ray and Sue Smith Stadium Saturday for its first MIAA meeting against Finlandia University. Kickoff is noon.