CWRU Football to Open PAC Schedule at Grove City Saturday Night

CWRU Football to Open PAC Schedule at Grove City Saturday Night

2016 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #2: CWRU (1-0, 0-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) at Grove City (0-2, 0-0 PAC)
Saturday, September 17, 2016 · 7:00 p.m. ET · Grove City, Pa. (Robert E. Thorn Field)

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To download the complete game notes, click here.


The Case Western Reserve University Spartans (1-0, 0-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) will open their 2016 conference schedule this weekend, when the team travels to Grove City College (0-2, 0-0 PAC) for a 7:00 p.m. meeting with the Wolverines on Saturday, September 17th at Robert E. Thorn Field in Grove City, Pennsylvania.

The Spartans will enter Saturday's game with a 1-0 record, following a season-opening 45-17 win over University Athletic Association rival Chicago at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  Case Western Reserve outgained Chicago 457 to 309, including a 240-71 edge in rushing yards.

Junior quarterback Rob Cuda led the Spartans offensively, completing 17-of-21 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for an additional 125 yards and two more scores.  Junior running back Myles Anthony added 73 rushing yards, while junior fullback Aaron Aguilar rushed for his first career touchdown.  Senior receiver Brendan Lynch led the Spartans' receiving corps with seven receptions for 76 yards and two touchdowns, with Justin Phan adding four receptions for 62 yards and returning a punt for a score.

Defensively, junior linebacker Andrew Banathy had a team-high 11 tackles (three solo, eight assisted) including half-a-tackle for a loss.  Junior linebacker Chanan Demery picked up nine tackles (three solo, six assisted) and senior linebacker Zach Lyon tallied eight tackles (six solo, two assisted) including 1.5 for a loss.  In the secondary, senior Nick Kwon finished the game with five tackles, three pass breakups and one quarterback hurry.

Grove City will be looking for their first win of the season, after losing their season opener 31-26 at home to Juniata, followed by a 65-13 loss on the road to 23rd-ranked Washington and Jefferson (a non-conference matchup).  The Wolverines are averaging 322 yards per game (252 pass, 70 rushing) through their first two contests, while allowing 537 yards per game (378.5 passing, 158.5 rushing).

Brett Laffoon has started both games at quarterback, completing 59.2% of his passes for 231.0 yards per game, with four touchdowns and four interceptions.  The team's leading rusher is running back Wesley Schools, who has run for 138 yards and a touchdown.  Nick Ponikvar leads all Grove City players with 19 receptions, 239 yards and two touchdowns, while Brett Pinson has 10 receptions for 131 yards and a pair of TDs.

Shawn Simmons has a team-high 23 tackles, including three for a loss, with Deion Minor adding 15 tackles, including three for a loss and a sack.  Caleb Allen has paced the Wolverines with two sacks on the year, and Ethan Conto has an interception, a sack and has forced a pair of fumbles. 

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, who has a career record of 83-41 (.667) during his 13 seasons with the team.  Debeljak has led the Spartans to four UAA Championships in the last nine years with three consecutive undefeated (10-0) regular seasons and NCAA Playoff berths from 2007-09.  Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Case Western Reserve has posted an outstanding overall record of 69-24, earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award four times (2007-09, '11).

Grove City is led by first-year Head Coach Andrew DiDonato, who took the team over this year from Chris Smith, who had been the head coach of the program for the previous 32 yards.  DiDonato, a former quarterback for the Wolverines, was the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during the 2015 campaign.

Saturday's game will be just the second all-time between the Spartans and the Wolverines.  The teams last played during the 2006 season in Grove City, with the Wolverines topping CWRU 40-33.  CWRU outgained Grove City 418 to 386, as Spartan quarterback Dan Whalen passed for 339 yards and threw for three touchdowns.  Current Grove City head coach Andrew DiDonato was the starting quarterback for the Wolverines in the last meeting, passing for 236 yards and three touchdowns, and rushing for an additional score in the win.

The Spartans continued to receive votes this week in the national rankings.  After receiving 18 votes in the preseason poll and 15 votes following their week one win, CWRU received 16 votes this week for organization's top-25.


CWRU sophomore Justin Phan was named to the Team of the Week as a returner, following the team's season-opening win over Chicago on September 3rd.  Phan returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown, the second-longest punt return in the program's history (second only to Dwain Carver's 87-yard return in 1974) and the first punt return for a score by a Spartan since September 24, 2011, when Dan Calabrese returned one 55 yards for a score against Denison University.  Phan also caught four passes for 62 yards in the game, his career single-game high, and was selected as the University Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Week.

The Spartans are 21-3 in their last 24 night games dating back to the 2006 season.  Last season, the Spartans tallied a 3-0 record in night games, including a 49-14 win over St. Vincent, a 20-7 win at Geneva, and a 35-28 victory against Washington and Jefferson.  Saturday's game will be the first of three under the lights for the Spartans, with CWRU scheduled to play home games against St. Vincent on October 1st and Geneva on October 22nd, each with a 6:00 p.m. start.

CWRU has gone 8-1 following bye weeks over the last nine seasons.  Last year, the Spartans topped Saint Vincent College 49-14 following their week-two bye.

The Spartans held Chicago scoreless in the second half of their season-opening game, restricting 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.