Spartans Host No. 3/2 Linfield on Homecoming Saturday

The Spartans host the nation's top-ranked offense on Saturday. (photo by Ryan Baker)
The Spartans host the nation's top-ranked offense on Saturday. (photo by Ryan Baker)

#3/2 Linfield Wildcats (2-0, 0-0 NWC) at
Case Western Reserve Spartans (1-2, 0-0 UAA)

Saturday, September 28, 2013 - 12:00 p.m.
Homecoming - Case Field - Cleveland

(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 looks to snap a two-game losing skid when it hosts No. 3/2 nationally ranked Linfield College (Ore.) for Homecoming on Saturday, September 28 at 12:00 p.m. at Case Field. The Spartans dropped a last-second heartbreaker at Frostburg State University (Md.), 36-33, in week three. Representatives of the Northwest Conference, the Wildcats defeated then No. 21 California Lutheran University, 52-14, and boast the nation's top-ranked offense. Linfield is ranked third in the nation by the American Football Coaches Association and second by

Saturday's meeting will mark the first on the gridiron for Case Western Reserve and Linfield.

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, who is in his 10th season in 2013 with a 68-29 (.701) record. Debeljak has led the Spartans to four UAA Championships in six 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 55-12, 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 AFCA Top 25 in four of the past six seasons (2007-10).

Linfield is coached by Joseph Smith in his eighth season with a 62-14 (.816) record. With more than 25 years at Linfield as a head coach, assistant coach and former All-American defensive back, Smith has led the Wildcats to four Northwest Conference Championships and NCAA playoff berths along with trips to the NCAA Playoff semifinals and quarterfinals.

Through three games, the Spartans have averaged 24.0 points, 136.3 yards rushing, 187.7 yards passing and 324.0 total yards per game. Case opponents have averaged 23.7 points, 189.7 yards rushing, 179.0 yards passing and 368.7 total yards per game. The Spartans have a +1 turnover ratio.

Offensively, senior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) has completed 22-of-33 passes (66.7%) for 299 yards and two touchdowns. Junior quarterback Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra Area) is 19-of-37 (51.4%) for 264 yards and two interceptions. Beecher has also rushed for 75 yards and a team-best three TDs. Senior RB Kenny Riordan (Spring Grove, Ill./Richmond-Burton) has rushed for a team-high 157 yards on 37 carries (4.2 ypc) with two TDs. Junior RB Ricky Hanzlik (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) is second on the squad with 141 yards rushing on 28 carries (5.0 ypc) with a score. Freshman wide receiver John Mangelluzzi (Gates Mills, Ohio/Mayfield) has hauled in team bests of 13 receptions and 196 yards (15.1 ypc) with a TD.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Gavin Sandidge (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) leads the team with 32 tackles, four of which are for loss, to go along with a forced fumble. Fellow sophomore linebacker Everett Dishong (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Chagrin Falls) has 29 tackles and team bests of 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks. Sophomore safety Scott Suren (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) and the Spartans' third starting sophomore LB, Aaron Weisberg (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage), each have 21 tackles. Suren also has an interception, while Weisberg leads the team with four pass break-ups.

Through two games, the Wildcats are the nation's top offensive team at 61.5 points per game and 658.0 total yards per game. Linfield's yardage is comprised of 287.5 rushing and 370.5 passing. Wildcat opponents have averaged 17.5 points, 120.0 yards rushing, 215.5 yards passing and 335.5 total yards per game. The Bobats have an even turnover ratio.

Offensively, senior QB Josh Yoder has completed 39-of-57 passes for 672 yards with six TDs and two INTs. Yoder, who ranks fourth in the nation in total offense per game, has also rushed for 109 yards on 18 carries (6.1 ypc) with two scores. Senior RB Josh Hill leads the team with 128 yards rushing on 27 carries (4.7 ypc) with three TDs. Junior WR Charlie Poppen has 10 receptions for a team-high 251 yards (25.1 ypc) with two TDs. Sophomore WR Brian Balsiger has a team-high 14 catches for 193 yards (13.8 ypc).

Defensively, senior LB Dominique Forrest leads the team with 30 tackles and 3.5 TFL. Fellow senior LB Tim Edmonds has 15 tackles, including 2.5 for loss. Senior tackle Tyler Steele has registered five stops and the team's lone sack. Junior safety Jordan Giza has seven tackles and one interception.

Linfield will be the fourth ranked opponent for CWRU since 2007. Case Western Reserve hosted No. 21 Wittenberg University for Homecoming 2012, No. 12 Wabash College (Ind.) in the opening round of the 2008 NCAA Playoffs, and No. 12 Wabash in the second round of the 2007 NCAA Playoffs.

The Spartans' 294 yards rushing were the most for the program since October 27, 2001 when the team totaled 317 in a 43-29 win at home versus Denison University. The school record for team yards rushing in a game is 437, set versus Washington University-St. Louis in 1986.

Case Western Reserve has won five of its last six Homecoming games dating back to 2007. Linfield will be the first non-North Coast Athletic Conference team the Spartans play for Homecoming since 2006.

Senior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park), who doubles as the team's punter, tied a school record with a 77-yard punt at Frostburg State on Saturday. Former Spartan Chuck Tall also booted a 77-yard punt in 1991 versus Carnegie Mellon.

Junior running back Ricky Hanlik (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) rushed for a career-high 105 yards with a touchdown at Frostburg State. Hanzlik leads the team at 5.0 yards per carry this season.

Junior quarterback Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra Area) matched his career best with three rushing touchdowns at Frostburg State on Saturday. Beecher also rushed for three scores in last season's Academic Bowl victory versus Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.). Beecher's performance this past Saturday netted UAA Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Sophomore safety Scott Suren (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick) and sophomore linebacker Gavin Sandidge (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) each recorded career highs at Frostburg State with 14 and 13 tackles, respectively.

Senior safety Jordan Banky (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) recorded his fourth career interception in the first half of Saturday's game at Frostburg State. Banky's previous three INTs occurred in the second half of games and each came during a Spartan victory.

The number of Spartans that earned their first collegiate start in week one versus Marietta.

The number of wins for Case Western Reserve since the beginning of the 2007 season. The Spartans are 55-12 overall during that span.