Spartans Open 2014 Season versus Carnegie Mellon in 29th Annual Academic Bowl/PAC Kickoff Classic

The Spartans have hoisted the Academic Bowl trophy for seven straight seasons.
The Spartans have hoisted the Academic Bowl trophy for seven straight seasons.

Carnegie Mellon Tartans (0-0) at
Case Western Reserve Spartans (0-0)

Saturday, September 6, 2014 - 7:00 p.m.
29th Annual Academic Bowl - PAC Kickoff Classic
Fireworks Night

DiSanto Field - Cleveland

(Brendan Gulick, play-by-play)


Download the complete CWRU game notes in .pdf format by clicking HERE.

The Case Western Reserve University football team opens the 2014 campaign with the 29th Annual Academic Bowl versus rival Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) on Saturday, September 6 at DiSanto Field in Cleveland.  CWRU (5-4 in 2013) has seven consecutive winning seasons and a 59-14 overall record since the beginning of the 2007 campaign. The Tartans ended last season at 3-7. The game will mark the first in history for both schools as affiliate members of the Presidents' Athletic Conference. Also tabbed as the 2014 PAC Kickoff Classic, the game will count towards both the PAC and the University Athletic Association standings.

The Spartans and Tartans have met annually since 1970, but the matchup wasn't designated as the "Academic Bowl" until 1986. Carnegie Mellon owns a 26-17 lead in the all-time series, but Case Western Reserve has won the last seven meetings, including a 35-32 triumph in Pittsburgh last season. Along with CWRU's current streak, CMU won seven straight in the series from 1975 to 1981. The Spartans won the first-ever meeting between the two by a score of 21-0 at home in 1970.

Playing in front of his hometown crowd, then senior quarterback Erik Olson threw for 271 yards and three touchdowns as Case Western Reserve won the 28th Annual Academic Bowl, 35-32, on November 16, 2013 at Gesling Stadium.

Since 1986, Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon have met on the gridiron in the annual Academic Bowl. The game recognizes not only a football rivalry, but an academic rivalry between two of the nation's elite research and scholastic institutions. The winning team each season is presented with a trophy that bears the results of each Academic Bowl matchup.

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, who enters his 11th season in 2014 with a 72-31 (.699) record. Debeljak has led the Spartans to four UAA Championships in seven years with three consecutive undefeated (10-0) regular seasons and NCAA Playoff berths from 2007-09. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Case Western Reserve has posted an outstanding overall record of 59-14, earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award four times (2007-09, '11). In addition, CWRU has been ranked in the AFCA Top 25 in four of the past seven seasons (2007-10).

Carnegie Mellon is coached by Rich Lackner, a 1979 graduate of CMU. Now in his 29th season, Lackner has compiled an overall record of 184-97-2 with eight UAA Championships. Lackner has also been tabbed UAA Coach of the Year on five separate occasions and was named the South Region Coach of the Year in 2006.

Typically late season opponents, Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon have not met in a season opener since 2001. The schools opened against each other for six straight years from 1996-01. The last four meetings in the series have each served as regular season finales.

Only twice in CWRU's history have the Spartans opened the season against their final opponent of the previous year. The Spartans played Hiram College to close the 1976 campaign and to open the 1977 season. Prior to beginning a stretch of six straight season openers against Carnegie Mellon, the Spartans played the Tartans at the end of 1995 and the beginning of 1996.

In nine games last season, the Spartans averaged 20.2 points, 104.7 yards rushing, 170.0 yards passing and 274.7 total yards per game. CWRU opponents averaged 25.3 points, 130.1 yards rushing, 238.3 yards passing and 368.4 total yards per game. For the season, the Spartans maintained a +4 turnover ratio.

Offensively, senior quarterback Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra Area) completed 31-of-59 passes (52.5%) for 369 yards with four interceptions. Beecher also rushed for 110 yards and four TDs. Senior running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory) rushed for 152 yards on 45 carries (3.4 ypc) with one TD. For his career, Sicre has 1,515 yards rushing with 10 TDs and 621 yards receiving with five scores. Senior wide receiver Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley) tied for tops on the team with 32 receptions and totaled 320 yards (10.0 ypc) with two TDs. In his career, Lapcevic has 108 receptions for 1,250 yards and six TDs.

Defensively, junior linebacker Gavin Sandidge (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) led the team with 76 tackles, including 11 for loss, to go along with a forced fumble and a blocked kick. Fellow junior linebacker Everett Dishong (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Chagrin Falls) registered 75 tackles with team highs of 12 TFL, 4.5 sacks and seven pass break-ups. The Spartans' third starting junior LB, Aaron Weisberg (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), had 71 tackles, an interception and six  pass break-ups. Sophomore cornerback Nick Kwon (Kaneohe, Hawaii/Mid-Pacific Institute) and junior safety Jordan Esteban (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory) each had two interceptions.

In 10 games last season, the Tartans averaged 21.4 points, 142.8 yards rushing, 197.3 yards passing and 340.1 total yards per game. CMU opponents averaged 23.4 points, 171.8 yards rushing, 181.1 yards passing and 352.9 total yards per game. The Tartans maintained a -9 turnover ratio.

Offensively, junior QB Andrew Hearon completed 8-of-15 passes (53.3%) for 252 yards with two TDs and two INTs. Junior RB Troy Witt rushed for a team-high 431 yards on 100 carries (4.3 ypc) and three TDs. Witt also hauled in 24 receptions for 238 yards (9.9 ypc) and one TD. Senior WR Tim Swanson posted a team-best 26 catches for 548 yards (21.1 ypc) and three TDs.

Defensively, junior safety Macolm Guya is the team's top returning tackler with 45 stops. Guya also recorded a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Junior corner Vince Demarchi posted 43 tackles with two INTs and nine break-ups.

Head Coach Greg Debeljak has announced team captains for the 2014 season. They are senior quarterback Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra Area) and senior guard Sam Reusser (Orrville, Ohio/Orrville).

The Spartan special teams unit ranked 25th in the nation in 2013 by allowing only 4.1 yards per punt return. During the previous five seasons, CWRU limited the opposition to punt return averages of 8.5 (2012), 6.3 (2011), 1.9 (2010), 4.1 (2009) and 2.3 (2008).

Case Western Reserve has won 12 consecutive season openers dating back to the 2002 season. Ten of those victories have come under Head Coach Greg Debeljak. The last CWRU loss in a season opener came on September 8, 2001 at Carnegie Mellon by a score of 42-14.

The number of wins for Case Western Reserve since the beginning of the 2007 season. The Spartans are 59-14 overall during that span.

CWRU enters the 2014 campaign with 198 victories in program history. After the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University federation of 1967, the first CWRU football team was fielded during the fall of 1970.

Members of the 1984 CWRU football team will be recognized prior to the game. This past spring, the team was presented with the first "University Award for Athletic Excellence" on the 30th anniversary of its undefeated season. The nationally ranked squad, with nine future All-Americans, caught the attention of college football and welcomed a new era of success on the gridiron at CWRU — a tradition that continues today.

At halftime, the CWRU tennis team will be recognized for its run to the 2014 NCAA Elite 8. Eric Klawitter and CJ Krimbill put an exclamation mark on the team's historic season with an NCAA Doubles Championship.