The Case Western Reserve University Spartans kept their undefeated record intact on Saturday night at DiSanto Field, pulling out a 16-14 win over the Geneva College Golden Tornadoes in Cleveland, Ohio.
With the win, the Spartans improved to 7-0 overall, marking the first time since 2010 and the seventh time in program history that CWRU has won its first seven games of the season. CWRU also raised its league ledger to 6-0, remaining tied atop the Presidents' Athletic Conference standings with 13th-ranked Thomas More College, which topped St. Vincent earlier in the day. Geneva dropped to 2-5 overall with the loss, and to 1-4 in the PAC.
The game proved to be a tightly-played defensive battle throughout between the two squads. Junior quarterback Rob Cuda led the Spartans with 117 rushing yards, while completing 15-of-24 passes for 136 yards, including a touchdown pass to sophomore Joey Spitalli. Senior receiver Brendan Lynch added seven receptions for 50 yards.
Sophomore defensive end Cameron Brown turned in a stellar defensive effort with 10 tackles, including two for a loss, a sack, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry. Junior linebacker Justin McMahon had a team-high 11 tackles, and senior cornerback Nick Kwon added 10 stops on the day.
The Golden Tornadoes struck first in the game, going 75 yards on 15 plays during their opening drive and scoring on a two-yard run by quarterback Bryan Stafford. The Spartans answered back with a nine play, 66 yard drive, capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by junior running back Jacob Burke, his team-leading 12th of the season. However, a missed extra point kept Geneva on top, 7-6. Geneva would have chances to extend their lead on back-to-back drives in the second quarter, but missed a 36-yard field goal with 9:38 remaining in the half, and then see a 10-play, 62-yard drive stall on the Spartan three-yard line after a stop by McMahon and senior Owen Williams on a fourth down run by Javid Ellis.
The 7-6 score would carry into the second half, marking the first time this season that the Spartans have trailed after the first 30 minutes. However, CWRU would respond on their first possession of the second half, going 61 yards downfield on 13 plays, and scoring on a seven yard pass from Cuda to Spitalli. It was the first touchdown catch of Spitalli's career.
Later in the quarter, junior kicker Ben Carniol converted a 27-yard field goal to extend the Spartans' lead to 16-7.
The Spartans maintained their lead through much of the fourth quarter, aided by Brown's forced fumble and recovery with 9:35 remaining in the game. Geneva would switch mid-quarter from a triple option offensive to a more conventional one, and score a touchdown with 1:44 remaining in the game on an eight yard run by quarterback Devin Kelosky. However, the Lynch recovered an onside kick, allowing the Spartans to run the clock down, before giving the ball back to Geneva with six seconds remaining. The Golden Tornadoes had one last chance from their own 35 yard line, as Kelosky completed a pass to Trewon Marshall at midfield, but after three lateral passes, McMahon made the final tackle at the Geneva 35 yard line to end the game.
The Spartans will be back in action next weekend, when the team heads to St. Louis, Missouri for a matchup against University Athletic Association rival Washington University (Mo.). Case Western Reserve can clinch at least a share of their first University Athletic Association Championship since 2011 with a win in the game. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.