Case Western Reserve University junior quarterback Rob Cuda accounted for four touchdowns, and the team's defense held the University of Chicago scoreless in the second half, as the Spartans rolled to a 45-17 win over the Maroons in their season-opening game at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday.
Cuda recorded the third 100-yard rushing game of his career, finishing the contest with 125 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns, while completing 17-of-21 passes with 217 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Senior receiver Brendan Lynch caught seven of the passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore receiver Justin Phan added four catches for 62 yards, and returned a punt 85 yards for a score in the second quarter. On the ground, junior Myles Anthony rushed 12 times for 73 yards.
Chicago scored first in the game, as kicker Mike Kurzydlowski converted a 28-yard field goal with 12:14 remaining in the first quarter, but the Spartans would score three-unanswered touchdowns to take the lead for good. Cuda and Lynch connected for their first touchdown of the game with 6:57 left in the first, connecting on a six-yard pass to cap off a 10-play, 69 yard drive. With 58 seconds remaining in the quarter, Cuda would carry the ball in from a yard out to extend the CWRU lead to 14-3.
Phan opened up the scoring in the second quarter with the punt return touchdown, giving the Spartans a 21-3 advantage with 12:41 left in the half. The return was just two yards shy of the longest return in program history, an 87-yard return recorded by Dwain Carver in 1974.
After a Chicago touchdown drive with 9:29 remaining pulled the Maroons back to within 11 points, Cuda would connect with Lynch in the end zone again, this time from two-yards out, capping off a 10-play, 80-yard drive and giving the Spartans a 28-10 lead with 4:07 left in the second. Chicago would score late in the half on a Burke Moser two-yard run to cut the lead back down to 11 heading into the break.
The Spartans' defense would be the story in the second half, securing the victory with a pair of shutout quarters. CWRU held the Maroons to just 102 yards in the second half, and just eight first downs, including one first down and 24 yards in the fourth quarter. Case Western Reserve scored two more touchdowns in the third to add to the lead, one on a one-yard run by Cuda and another on a three-yard run by Aaron Aguilar, his first career touchdown. A 35-yard field goal from junior Ben Carniol in the fourth quarter capped off the scoring for CWRU.
Junior Andrew Banathy led the Spartans defensively with 11 tackles in the game, while junior linebacker Chanan Demery added nine tackles, and senior linebacker Zach Lyon recorded eight tackles, including 1.5 for a loss. Senior Nick Kwon tallied a team-high three pass breakups.
The victory gives the Spartans' their third-straight win in a home opener, and marked the 14th-time in the last 15 years that CWRU has won its season-opening game.
Following their bye week, the Spartans will be back in action on Saturday, September 17th, when the team opens its Presidents' Athletic Conference schedule at Grove City College. Kickoff for the game is at 7:00 p.m.