Case Western Reserve University's defense held Bethany College (W.Va.) to 147 total yards and just one fourth quarter score, and junior running back Jacob Burke topped his career high in rushing yards for the third-straight week, as the Spartans picked up a 37-14 win over the Bison in Bethany, West Virginia on Saturday afternoon.
With the win, the Spartans remained atop the Presidents' Athletic Conference standings, tied with 15th-ranked Thomas More College with a 4-0 conference record. Case Western Reserve improved to 5-0 overall, the team's best start since opening the 2010 campaign with a 7-0 record. Bethany dropped to 1-5 overall and to 0-4 in the PAC with the loss.
Burke continued his torrid play of late, rushing for 193 yards on 22 carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns. He bested his previous career-high in rushing yards of 183, set last Saturday in a win over Saint Vincent. Burke has rushed for at least 150 yards in each of the last three games.
Junior quarterback Rob Cuda added 88 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground, and completed 17-of-28 passes for 168 yards and third score. Sophomore receiver Justin Phan collected a career-high seven receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown, while senior receiver Brendan Lynch caught six passes for 68 yards.
The Spartans took the early lead in Saturday's game, extending an early drive when Burke ran for 32 yards on a fake punt on fourth and one from the CWRU 38 yard line. Cuda eventually ended the drive with a three-yard touchdown run, putting the Spartans up 7-0 with 7:32 left in the first quarter.
CWRU remained up a touchdown until Bethany evened the score with 2:05 remaining in the quarter, when Cuda was hit while throwing, allowing a pass to get picked off by the Bison's Donovan Hayden, who returned it 48 yards for the touchdown.
The Spartans answered back early in the second quarter, regaining the lead on a two-yard run by Burke that capped off an 11-play, 87 yard drive with 12:59 left in the half and put CWRU back ahead 14-7. Later in the quarter, Phan set the Spartans up with good field position after a 25-yard punt return into Bethany territory, and Cuda ran for his second three-yard touchdown of the game to complete a five play, 38-yard drive with 3:07 left in the second quarter. Despite a missed extra point, Case Western Reserve headed into halftime with a 20-7 advantage over Bethany.
The Spartans dominated the first half, outgaining the Bison 257-42, while the defense held Bethany to just three passing yards during the first 30 minutes.
Burke immediately added to the Spartans' lead in the second half, rushing for a 51-yard touchdown on the second play from scrimmage in the third quarter to push the lead to 27-7. Cuda would find Phan in the end zone with 5:15 left in the third to extend the lead to 34-7, and junior Ben Carniol converted a 28-yard field goal with 48 seconds left in the third to cap off the Spartans' scoring for the day.
Bethany scored its only offensive touchdown of the game on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Chase Kinemond to Tyler Ambush with 7:44 left in the game, a play that accounted for a third of their total offense on Saturday, but it proved to be too little too late for the Bison.
Case Western Reserve's defense was in the Bison's backfield the entire game, finishing the contest with 14 tackles for a loss and four sacks, en route to the dominating effort. Sophomore defensive end Cameron Brown ended the game with a season-high ten tackles, including half a sack and 2.5 tackles for a loss, while senior inside linebacker Jeep Madison collected six tackles, including three for a loss and 1.5 sacks. Junior linebacker Justin McMahon finished the game with five tackles and recorded the second interception of his career in the first quarter of the game.
The Spartans defense held Bethany to 70 rushing yards, and have now limited each of their five opponents this year to under 75 rushing yards. Meanwhile, CWRU eclipsed the 300-rushing yard mark for the second-straight game, finishing the contest with 327 yards on the ground, among the team's 515 yards of total offense.
Burke's 193-yard effort on Saturday gives him 610 rushing yards and nine touchdowns this season, including 539 yards and seven touchdowns in the last three games. Cuda has added 407 rushing yards and eight touchdowns to the Spartans' ground attack this season.
The Spartans will return home next weekend to host their annual Homecoming Game on Saturday, October 15th against Thiel College, with kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio. At halftime of the game, Case Western Reserve will honor the seven new members of the Spartan Club Hall of Fame – Emil Bereczky, James George Drougas, Dr. Lisa Gieseker Gozal, Eli Grant, Ken Holloway, Andres Molina and Jim Wyant – prior to their induction later that evening.