CLEVELAND – A balanced offense that saw four different players score touchdowns and a dominant defensive effort led the way as the Case Western Reserve University football team opened the 2013 season with a 37-16 rout of visiting Marietta College on Saturday night at Case Field.
The Spartan defense forced three turnovers and did not allow an offensive point until late in the fourth quarter. The effort was led by a pair of career-best performances from sophomore linebackers Everett Dishong (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Chagrin Falls) and Gavin Sandidge (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic), who totaled 12 and 11 tackles, respectively.
Of the four Spartans to score TDs, senior running back Kenny Riordan (Spring Grove, Ill./Richmond-Burton) accounted for a pair on the ground to go along with 51 yards rushing on 14 carries.
The Spartans began the first drive of the season deep in their own territory after a promising kick return by junior wide receiver Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley) was negated due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The drive stalled after an initial first down, and the Spartans punted.
Marietta's first offensive series ended quickly as well as Spartan sophomore safety Scott Suren (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) intercepted a pass at his team's 38-yard line with 11:26 left to play in the first quarter.
The teams then traded possessions until the Spartan offense came to life when junior quarterback Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra) connected with junior wide receiver Colin MacLeod (Tacoma, Wash./Charles Wright Academy) for a gain of 42 yards which saw the third-year wide out drag several Pioneer defenders down to the visitor five. On the ensuing play, Riordan took a pitch left end and found the pylon on an outstretched dive to the endzone. A botched snap on the extra point attempt kept the score at 6-0 at the 4:56 mark of the first quarter.
Marietta got on the scoreboard at the 2:19 mark of the quarter when a high snap went over the head of Spartan senior quarterback/punter Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel park) and out of the end zone for a safety, making the score 6-2.
The Spartans then took control in the second quarter with an eight-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard TD run by junior RB Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory). Freshman kicker Nick Bavaro (Medina, Ohio/Medina) hit the extra point to make the score 13-2 with 8:51 remaining in the second quarter.
After another three and out by the Pioneers, the Spartans cashed in with another scoring drive that ended in an eight-yard pass from Olson to sophomore wide receiver Ethan Albers (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty) in the right flat of the end zone. Another Bavaro PAT moved the lead to 20-2 at the 3:22 mark of the second.
Shortly after halftime, Riordan added his second score of the game to cap a four-play, 43-yard drive with 10:52 left in the third quarter. Bavaro connected on his third PAT then hit a 21-yard field goal several drives later to make the score 30-2 at the 5:43 mark.
Junior running back Ricky Hanzlik (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) became the fourth Spartan to reach the end zone on the opening play of the fourth quarter with a 14-yard TD run that capped a five-play, 76-yard drive. Bavaro's final extra point increased the lead to 37-2.
The Pioneer offense finally scored with 6:20 left in the game when QB Tom Fulton scrambled to "pay dirt" from three yards out to wrap up a nine-play, 50-yard drive. Garret Butler connected on the point after to bring the score to 37-9.
The visitors scored once more at 1:48 on a 12-yard pass from Fulton to Josh Llaneza, and Butler tacked on the PAT to bring the final to 37-16.
For the game, Olson completed 7-of-9 passes for 119 yards, while Beecher was 8-for-12 for 127. Freshman WR John Mangelluzzi (Gates Mills, Ohio/Mayfield) was the top receiver in the game with four receptions for 96 yards.
Marietta was led Llaneza with four receptions for 65 yards and linebacker Jake Hammer with 13 tackles.
The Spartans take to the road for the first time next Sunday, September 15 at Oberlin College at 1:00 p.m.