ST. LOUIS – Junior wide receiver Bryan Erb (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day) turned in a career day with 10 receptions for 122 yards and a score, but four turnovers proved costly as the Case Western Reserve University football team lost by a count of 28-17 at University Athletic Association rival Washington University in St. Louis on Saturday at Francis Field.
The Spartans drop to 3-5 overall and 1-1 in the UAA, while the Bears improve to the exact same marks.
Of CWRU's four turnovers, a pair came in the opponent's redzone, and the last two led to 14 points for Washington U. Prior to a late third-quarter touchdown by Erb on a pass from senior quarterback Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palmyra Area), the Spartans saw three trips inside the home 25 result in just three points as a result of turnovers and sacks.
Erb set career highs for receptions, receiving yards and long reception (41) in just his fourth game back from injury.
The opportunistic Bears got a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes from quarterback J.J. Tomlin, who finished the game 25-of-33 for 244 yards.
The first three possessions of the game ended in punts, but on the fourth, Washington U. was able to piece together an 11-play, 48-yard drive which ended in a 42-yard field by Alex Hallwachs with 8:03 left in the first quarter.
On the very next possession, CWRU responded with a season high-tying 17-play drive that covered 70 yards and culminated in a 25-yard field goal by sophomore Mitch Hopkins (Powell, Ohio/Olentangy Orange) with 37 seconds remaining in the opening quarter. A pair of 14-yard receptions by freshman wide receiver Luke DiFrancesco (Johnstown, Pa./Bishop McCort) and senior wide receiver Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley) highlighted a drive that was cut short by a 3rd-and-goal sack.
Early in the second, the Bears moved back ahead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Sam Van Doren to Cody Ratermann. Hallwachs hit the extra point to cap a seven-play, 74-yard drive that gave the hosts a 10-3 advantage at the 10:12 mark. The drive was keyed by a Van Doren to Max Elliott 47-yard pass to the CWRU 11.
The next Spartan drive quickly covered 61 yards thanks to the career-long 41-yard reception by Erb, but a sack fumble at the home 20 allowed the Bears to head into halftime ahead, 10-3.
In the second half, Washington U. received the ball first and traveled 30 yards on 13 plays to set up Hallwachs for his second field goal, a 49-yarder, with 10:02 on the clock.
The Spartans then drove 54 yards on six plays deep into home territory, but another turnover negated the effort as Washington U.'s Nate Lowis intercepted a tipped pass at his team's own four yard line.
The defense was able to quickly force a punt, giving the offense possession at the home 43. Seven plays later on 3rd-and-7, Beecher found Erb in the endzone for an 11-yard touchdown strike. Hopkins converted the point after as the Spartans cut their deficit to 13-10 with 3:24 left in the third.
Several possessions later, another turnover gave Washington U. possession at the CWRU 28. The Bears capitalized and found the endzone in four plays as J.J. Tomlin connected with Hank Childs for a five-yard touchdown pass. Tomlin then hit Jon Schlotterback on a two-point conversion pass, bumping the lead to 21-10 with 13:51 left to play.
A fumble on CWRU's next drive then set the Bears up for the clinching score as Tomlin threw a one-yard touchdown to Bartholomew with 8:54 remaining. The Spartans scored once more at 6:57 when Beecher hit junior tight end Ethan Albers (Oviedo, Fla./Hagerty) for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Albers now has a team-best five receiving scores in 2014.
Beecher concluded the game 24-of-44 for 257 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Freshman running back Anthony Canganelli (Mayfield Village, Ohio/Mayfield) led all rushers in the game with 73 yards on 12 carries. Defensively, junior linebacker Gavin Sandidge (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic) posted a game-high 12 tackles with one for loss.
The Spartans conclude a stretch of three in a row on the road with a 1:00 p.m. game at Thomas More College next Saturday, November 8 at The Bank of Kentucky Field in Crestview Hills.