Spartans Grind Out West Coast Win, 38-31, at Puget Sound

Erik Olson (photo by Ryan Baker)
Erik Olson (photo by Ryan Baker)

TACOMA, Wash. – Senior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) completed 27-of-34 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Case Western Reserve University football team to a 38-31 victory versus the University of Puget Sound on a cool, damp and foggy Saturday afternoon at Baker Stadium.

Playing on the West Coast for the first time in program history, the Spartans (2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak headed into the final two home games of the 2013 season. The loss dropped the Loggers to 1-4.

The Spartans maintained a 36:16 to 23:44 advantage in time of possession and converted 5-of-6 fourth down attempts. Case also outrushed Puget Sound, 178-41, and racked up 219 total return yards.

Seven of Olson's career-high 27 completions went to junior running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory), who totaled 82 receiving yards that came mostly on screen passes. On the ground, senior running back Kenny Riordan (Spring Grove, Ill./Richmond-Burton) ran 14 times for 74 yards with a pair of scores, while junior running back Ricky Hanzlik (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) finished with 61 yards and a TD.

After the first three drives of the game quickly ended in punts, Puget Sound marched 73 yards on 13 plays and converted a pair of fourth-and-one situations en route to an eight-yard touchdown pass from Braden Foley to Kevin Miller with 5:19 left in the first quarter.

Two drives later, the Loggers appeared to be headed towards the endzone once again, but freshman cornerback Nick Kwon (Kaneohe, Hawaii/Mid-Pacific Institute) picked off a pass at the goal line for his second interception in as many games.

Kwon's return set Case up with good starting position at the visitor 49, and the Spartans were able to drive 51 yards to "pay dirt" as Olson hooked up with junior wide receiver Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley) for a 19-yard touchdown pass at the 8:17 mark of the second quarter. One play earlier, Olson converted a fourth-and-five with a screen pass to Sicre.  

After forcing Puget Sound to punt on the ensuing possession, the Spartans picked up good field position once again thanks to a 45-yard return by Lapcevic to the home 30. Six plays later, Riordan broke through the visitor line and scampered nine yards for a touchdown. Freshman Nick Bavaro (Medina, Ohio/Medina) hit his second extra point to make the score 14-7 with 3:14 left before halftime.

The Spartans would add three more to their lead with 48 seconds on the clock when Bavaro hit a 22-yard field goal to cap an eight-play, 66-yard drive.

The Loggers came out of the locker room and took the opening drive of the second half 47 yards on 13 plays to set up Sawyer Petre for a 35-yard field goal at 10:20.

Case came right back on its next drive and went 62 yards on 14 plays as Olson hooked up with sophomore fullback Adam Hochman (Austin, Texas/Anderson) for a four-yard TD pass. Bavaro's third PAT bumped the score to 24-10 with 2:24 left in the third quarter.

The teams then traded scoring drives in the opening five minutes of the fourth before Riordan added his second rushing TD to make the score 38-17 with 3:20 left to play.

Puget Sound didn't go away and sandwiched two quick TDs around a successful onside kick, but the Spartans were able to regain possession and run the final 1:13 off of the clock.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Aaron Weisberg (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) led the Spartans with eight tackles. Sophomore defensive lineman Dayton Snyder (West Lafayette, Ind./West Lafayette) finished with six stops and a sack.

The Loggers were led on offense by Foley with a game-high 313 yards and four passing TDs. Miller accounted for 92 yards receiving and two of the scores.

The Spartans now make the long trek back to Cleveland to host Trinity University (Texas) on Saturday, October 26 at 12:00 p.m. at DiSanto Field.