Spartans Start Fast in 33-19 Homecoming Win versus Geneva

A safety contributed to a 20-point first quarter for the Spartans. (photo by Lynne Browske)
A safety contributed to a 20-point first quarter for the Spartans. (photo by Lynne Browske)

CLEVELAND – The Case Western Reserve University football team scored in all three phases in the first quarter en route to a 33-19 Homecoming victory versus Geneva College (Pa.) in Presidents' Athletic Conference action at DiSanto Field.

The Spartans (3-3, 3-3 PAC) snap a two-game losing streak, while the Golden Tornadoes (1-5, 0-4 PAC) lose their fourth in a row.

Two touchdowns offensively, a safety for the defense and a field goal gave the Spartans a 20-7 lead after a quarter of play. Geneva pulled to within seven late, but freshman running back Anthony Canganelli (Mayfield Village, Ohio/Mayfield) sealed the deal with a 41-yard touchdown run with 2:13 remaining. The rookie finished with a season-high 90 yards on the ground.  

Sophomore wide receiver Brendan Lynch (Sarver, Pa./Freeport Area), who threw the team's first touchdown on a trick play, finished with a game-high nine receptions for 63 yards.  

The Spartans dominated time of possession (35:40 to 24:20) and limited Geneva to 38 yards rushing while forcing three turnovers. Junior linebacker Gavin Sandidge (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) finished with 12 tackles and a forced fumble.

Geneva received the ball first and marched 64 yards on just six plays for the opening score of the game. On 2nd-and-goal, Brandon Hacker rushed into the endzone from one yard out. Mike Gardner hit the extra point, and Geneva led 7-0 at the 13:17 mark.

The Spartans answered with a 14-play, 54-yard drive which culminated in a 30-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Nick Bavaro (Medina, Ohio/Medina) at 7:50, and Geneva's next possession opened with a botched snap fumble for a safety as CWRU pulled to within 7-5 at 7:37.

After the free kick, CWRU drove 49 yards on seven plays and used some creativity as Lynch took an end around pitch then connected with junior wide out Ethan Albers (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty) for a 23-yard TD pass. Bavaro hit the extra point to bump the CWRU lead to 12-7 with 5:00 left in the opening quarter.

Geneva's next drive resulted in another miscue as a special teams fumble set the Spartans up at the visitor 13. Three plays later, senior quarterback Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra Area) found junior fullback Adam Hochman (Austin, Texas/Anderson) wide open in the flat for a nine-yard TD pass. The ensuing PAT looked doomed on a low snap, but junior holder Tap Tasker (East Aurora, N.Y./St. Francis) was able to recover and throw off of his back foot to junior linebacker KJ Pederson (Lancaster, Pa./Hempfield) for the two-point conversion.

The 20-7 score stood through the remainder of the half. The Spartans had one drive fizzle out at the Geneva 31 after a 12-yard loss on a sack, and the Golden Tornadoes had one drive end abruptly at the CWRU 15 thanks to an interception by junior cornerback Mike O'Donnell (Imperial, Pa./West Allegheny).

On the opening possession of the second half, CWRU added to its lead with a 12-play, 63-yard drive that ended in a one-yard TD run by Beecher. The PAT was no good, but the Spartans led 26-7 with 9:28 left in the third.

Five drives later, Geneva cut into its deficit when Dylan Jones scored on the ground from two yards out to cap a six-play, 56-yard drive. The PAT was unsuccessful, and the score sat at 26-13 Spartans with 1:35 remaining in the third.

That score stood until there was just 3:03 remaining as Geneva scored again on an Aaron Channing three-yard pass to Devin Kelosky. That score capped a seven-play, 65-yard drive. Another missed PAT kept the Spartan lead at 26-19.

Two plays after the Spartans recovered the onside kick, Canganelli broke through the line for the clinching run.

Offensively, Beecher finished 21-of-39 for 157 yards and his 10th TD. Hochman totaled 42 yards receiving on five catches.

For Geneva, Channing was 23-of-42 for 273 yards. Jones rushed for 72 yards, and Josh Guiser hauled in six catches for 112 yards. Jimmy Quinlan racked up a game-high 18 tackles. 

The Spartans now begin a brutal three-game stretch on the road starting at No. 18/20 nationally ranked Washington & Jefferson College on Saturday, October 25. Kick-off from Cameron Stadium in Washington, Pennsylvania is set for 2:00 p.m.