The Case Western Reserve University football team earned a statement victory under the lights at DiSanto Field on Saturday, defeating #15/17 Washington and Jefferson College 35-28 for the team's sixth-straight win.
The Spartans remained tied atop the Presidents Athletic Conference with a perfect 6-0 mark in conference games, with a matchup against Thomas More College, who CWRU is tied with for the PAC lead, just two weeks away at DiSanto Field.
Sophomore quarterback Rob Cuda threw for a career-high five touchdowns, including a game-winning 39-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Bryan Erb to break a 28-28 tie with 5:03 left in the fourth quarter. Cuda finished the contest 21-for-35 with 278 yards through the air, while running for another 100, his second 100-rushing yard game of the year.
Erb finished the game with season-highs with nine receptions, 147 yards and two touchdowns. Erb and Cuda have now connected for seven touchdowns in the last four games, and nine overall this season.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Presidents broke through for the first score of the game at the 8:49 mark, when running back Ryan Ruffing scored on a 14-yard pass from Pete Coughlin. However, the Spartans answered right back though, driving 80 yards in three minutes and 27 seconds, culminating with a 10-yard touchdown catch by junior tight end Zech Medved.
Ruffing struck again with 3:29 to play in the half, scoring on a 29-yard run, but once again Cuda provided a CWRU response, throwing a nine-yard scoring pass to senior tight end Ethan Albers to even the score with just 26 seconds left in the second quarter.
Washington and Jefferson regained the lead early in the third on Jesse Zubik's 59-yard touchdown catch just a minute and 16 seconds into the half, before Cuda hooked up with Albers for the second time of the day, scoring from nine yards out to even the score at 21 apiece.
After the Spartans defense forced a three-and-out on the next Presidents' drive, it appeared that CWRU would be forced to punt on a fourth and 10 from its own 43 yard line, but sophomore punter Jacob Burke was able to turn a dropped snap into a 22-yard gain for a first down. Four plays later, and a four-and-seven from the Washington and Jefferson 32-yard line, Cuda found Erb for a score to give the Spartans their first lead of the game, 28-21 with two minutes left in the third.
CWRU remained up a score until the 5:34 mark in the fourth, when Ruffing completed an 80-yard drive with a two-yard TD run to knot the score again.
Cuda and the Spartans once again had a quick, and this time decisive, response for the Presidents. Cuda and Erb needed just two plays to score, connecting on a 32-yard pass from their own 29 yard line on the first play of the drive, and then scoring from 39 yards out on the ensuing play, the eventual game winner.
The CWRU held up on the next drive, forcing a three-and-out and giving the Spartan offense the ball back with 3:31 left in the game. The Spartans were able to run the clock down to 49 seconds before punting. With time running out, junior cornerback Nick Kwon was able to secure the win with an interception, his second of the season, with just two seconds left. Kwon finished the game with a team-high 11 tackles, including nine solo.
Senior Jordan Esteban added 10 tackles on the day, while senior Nate Nachazel and junior Tyler Doty each had two sacks.
Meanwhile, the Spartans offense totaled 517 yards on Saturday, its second-highest output in a game this season, and the third game of over 500 yards this year. Senior Adam Hochman added a season-high 68 yards on the ground, and Medved finished the day with four receptions for 80 yards, including the one score.
The Spartans will continue their three-game home stand next weekend, when the team takes a break from PAC play to host University Athletic Association rival Washington University (Mo.). The kickoff is slated for noon on Saturday, October 31st at DiSanto Field.