Spartans Look for Continued Homecoming Success versus No. 21 Wittenberg this Saturday

The Spartans look to earn a sixth-straight Homecoming win this Saturday. (photo by Dave Nash)
The Spartans look to earn a sixth-straight Homecoming win this Saturday. (photo by Dave Nash)

Wittenberg Tigers (3-0) at
Case Western Reserve Spartans (2-2)
Saturday, September 29, 2012 - 1:00 p.m.
Homecoming - Case Field - Cleveland, Ohio

(Dave Wilson, play-by-play; Ed Daugherty, color)


Download the complete Spartan Games Notes in .pdf format by clicking HERE.

The Case Western Reserve University football team will look to rebound from back-to-back losses for the first time since 2006 when it hosts undefeated and No. 21 nationally-ranked Wittenberg University for Homecoming on Saturday, September 29 at Case Field. The Spartans dropped a second-straight last-minute heartbreaker, 17-14, at Ohio Wesleyan University last Saturday. Wittenberg improved to 3-0 with a 17-7 win at The College of Wooster.

The Spartans and Tigers have played only nine times on the gridiron and have not met since 1999. Wittenberg owns an 8-1 lead in the all-time series and has won six-straight meetings. The Tigers defeated the Spartans in Cleveland, 49-21, when the two met last on October 23, 1999. The lone Case Western Reserve win in the series came by a score of 14-13 in Springfield during the 1991 season. The first-ever meeting between the two resulted in a 31-22 Wittenberg win at home in 1989. The two schools met annually from 1989 to 1993. 

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, who is in his ninth season in 2012 with a 63-25 (.716) record. Debeljak has led the Spartans to four UAA Championships in five years, including three-consecutive undefeated (10-0) regular seasons from 2007-09 with back-to-back-to-back NCAA Playoff berths. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Case Western Reserve has posted an outstanding overall record of 50-8, earning Debeljak and his staff the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award four times (2007-09, '11). In addition, Case has been ranked in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top 25 in four of the past five seasons (2007-10).

Wittenberg is coached by Joe Fincham in his 18th season with an overall record of 147-33 (.817). Fincham, who is only the second Wittenberg head coach to amass 100 career wins, has led the Tigers to eight NCAC titles with eight NCAA Playoff berths. He is a seven-time NCAC Coach of the Year and a two-time AFCA Regional Coach of the Year.

Through four games, the Spartans average 22.8 points, 143.2 yards rushing, 217.0 yards passing and 360.2 total yards. Case opponents average 14.2 ppg, 75.2 yards rushing, 228.2 yards passing and 303.4 total yards per game. The Spartans have a -8 turnover ratio after leading the UAA at +12 last season.

Sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory) posted a season-high 123 yards rushing on a career-high 32 carries, but the Spartans fell via a 17-14 score as Ohio Wesleyan University's Miles MacKenzie kicked a game-winning 46-yard field goal with 4.4 seconds left in regulation last Saturday evening at Selby Stadium.

Offensively, senior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) has completed 66-of-106 passes (62.3%) for 850 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. Sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Prep) has a team-high 344 yards rushing on 86 carries (4.0 ypc) with three touchdowns. Sicre also has nine receptions for 158 yards and two scores. Sophomore wide receiver Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley) has posted a team-high 19 receptions for 296 yards (15.6 ypc) and a TD. Senior wide receiver Brian Rice (New Castle, Pa./New Castle) has 17 catches for 195 yards (11.5 ypc).

Defensively, senior outside linebacker Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) has recorded a team-high 38 tackles with a forced fumble and two pass break-ups. Senior linebacker Wade Self (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) has 35 stops with a pass break-up and a blocked punt. Senior linebacker Kevin Nossem (Munster, Ind./Munster) has 33 tackles and a pair of forced fumbles. Senior nose guard Michael Harris (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) has 23 tackles and is tied for the team lead with 3.5 sacks. Senior tackle Collin Desens (Hopewell Junction, N.Y./Arlington) has 28 tackles and three sacks, while junior end Brandon Bryant (Rockville, Md./Rockville) has 15 tackles with a team-high 6.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks. Senior outside linebacker Michael Fioramonti (Loxahatchee, Fla./Seminole Ridge) and junior safety Jordan Banky (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mt. Lebanon) each have an interception.

Through three games, the Tigers average 37.7 points, 181.7 yards rushing, 277.3 yards passing and 459.0 total yards. Wittenberg opponents average 12.7 ppg, 109.7 yards rushing, 122.3 yards passing and 232.0 total yards per game. The Tigers have a +6 turnover ratio.

Offensively, junior QB Reed Florence has completed 46-of-74 passes (62.2%) for 762 yards, seven TDs and five INTs. Florence also has 26 carries for 134 yards and three scores. Sophomore RB Will Stocker has rushed for a team-high 169 yards on 42 carries (4.0 ypc). Freshman RB Jimmy Dehnke has 162 yards rushing on 35 carries (4.6 ypc) and two TDs. Junior WR Brendon Cunninham has team-highs of 12 catches, 206 yards and two TDs.

Defensively, junior LB Spencer Leno has posted a team-high 20 tackles, including 11 solo, with a forced fumble. Sophomore LB Nick Gibson has 17 tackles. Senior LB Jon Daniels has 16 tackles with a half-sack, three fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.  Junior DB Heath Eby has a team-best two interceptions.

Sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory) totaled 188 yards from scrimmage at Ohio Wesleyan last Saturday. Sicre rushed for a season-high 123 yards on a career-high 32 carries and caught a season-high five passes for 65 yards receiving with a TD. Over the last two games, Sicre has 362 yards from scrimmage (214 rushing/148 receiving) with three scores.

With quarterback sacks from senior defensive end Adam Watson (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) and junior end Brandon Bryant (Rockville, Md./Rockville) last week at OWU, the Spartans now have a UAA-leading 12 this season. The Spartans posted six in a week one victory at Marietta College and have posted two in three-straight games since.

Sophomore RB Ricky Hanzlik (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) rushed for his first collegiate TD at OWU to become the fourth Spartan in three games to reach the endzone for the first time in his respective career. Three weeks ago at Hiram College, freshman fullback Adam Hochman (Austin, Texas/Anderson) caught a pair of scores, while sophomore tight end George Darany (Northville, Mich./Detroit Catholic Central) recorded his first TD on a reception in the second quarter. Senior defensive end Adam Watson (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) also made his initial trip to the endzone on a 38-yard blocked punt return.

The Spartans turned in their best time of possession of the season last Saturday at OWU with a difference of 36:18 to 23:42.

The Spartans have won five-consecutive Homecoming games dating back to 2007. All five wins have come versus NCAC schools.

The number of wins for Case Western Reserve since the beginning of the 2007 season. The Spartans are 50-8 overall and 26-2 on the road during that span.