UAA Title Share on the Line when CWRU Heads to Wash U. on Saturday

CWRU linebacker Justin McMahon chases after a ball carrier

2016 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #8: CWRU (7-0, 6-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) vs. Washington University (6-1, 5-1 SAA, 1-0 UAA)
Saturday, October 29, 2016 · 1:00 p.m. ET · St. Louis, Mo. (Francis Field)

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To download the complete game notes, click here.

Case Western Reserve University will have a chance to clinch a share of the 2016 University Athletic Association Championship on Saturday, October 29th, when the 25th-ranked Spartans (7-0, 6-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) travel to Francis Field in Saint Louis, Missouri to take on the Washington University (Mo.) Bears (6-1, 5-1 SAA, 1-0 UAA).

With both teams standing at 1-0 in UAA play this season, the winner of Saturday's game will clinch at least a share of the 2016 conference title with one UAA game left to play.  The Spartans will be looking for the sixth UAA Championship in the program's history, having previous won the title in 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.  Washington will be aiming for its second-straight title (having split the UAA Championship with Carnegie Mellon last year) and its 12th title in program history.

Case Western Reserve, ranked 25th in Division III, is coming off its closest win of the season, a 16-14 victory over Geneva College at DiSanto Field on Saturday.  The Spartans are 7-0 overall, including a 3-0 mark in road contests this season.  The team is averaging 41.3 points per game this season (19th in DIII) on 494.6 yards per game (16th in DIII) with 253.9 rushing yards (18th in DIII) and 240.7 passing yards (90th in DIII) per contest.  Meanwhile, the defense has allowed just 14.4 points per game (20th in DIII) on 274.1 total yards (25th in DIII), including 103.0 rushing yards (39th in DIII) and 171.1 passing yards (45th in DIII).  Case Western Reserve has recorded a +6 turnover ratio this season, and averages a 5:54 edge in time of possession per game.

The Spartans' offense is led by junior quarterback Rob Cuda, who has completed 62.8% of his passes this season for 1,613 yards and 13 touchdowns, while adding another 561 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground (12th in DIII).  Junior Jacob Burke is the team's leading rusher with 735 yards and 12 touchdowns (eighth in DIII) this season, and juniors Jeffrie Brown Jr. (161 yards, 2 TDs) and Aaron Aguilar (130 yards, 1 TD) are also over 100 yards rushing for the year.  Senior Brendan Lynch leads the team with 53 receptions, 833 yards (11th in DIII) and nine receiving touchdowns (16th in DIII), with sophomores Justin Phan (32 receptions, 331 yards, two TDs) and Hunter Tulloch (12 receptions, 225 yards, 1 TD) also making significant contributions during the year.

Junior linebacker Justin McMahon leads all Spartan defensive players with 51 tackles (26 solo), including three for a loss, with junior linebacker Chanan Demery racking up 38 tackles (23 solo), forcing three fumbles, and leading the team with four interceptions (14th in DIII with 0.7 interceptions per game).  Sophomore defensive end Cameron Brown has paced CWRU with eight tackles for a loss among his 34 total tackles, with 2.5 sacks, four quarterback hurries and two fumbles recovered (21st in DIII).  Senior cornerback and co-captain Nick Kwon has led the secondary with 37 tackles (including a team-high 27 solo), two interceptions and eight pass breakups.

The Bears have won five-straight games, including a 31-28 win at Millsaps last Saturday, to improve to 6-1 overall, including a 2-1 home ledger.   Washington, which received a vote in both the and AFCA polls this week, features one of the top passing offenses in the country, ranking sixth in passing yards (358.1) entering Saturday's game.  Overall, the team has scored 37.1 points per game (43rd in DIII) on 482.3 yards (24th in DIII), including 124.1 rushing yards.  The defense has allowed 24.7 points per game on 441.7 yards (218.0 rushing and 223.7 passing).  The Bears have a neutral turnover ratio this season, having turned the ball over 17 times and recovered 17 turnovers, and have averaged 10:36 less possession than their opponents per game in 2016.

Senior quarterback J.J. Tomlin has completed 65.0% of his passes this season (16th in DIII) for 2,433 yards (fifth in DIII) and 22 touchdowns (10th in DIII) with 12 interceptions, and is fourth among DIII quarterbacks with 29.71 completions per game.  The Bears' running game has been a two-pronged attack with senior Austin Smestad (447 yards, eight TDs) and sophomore Logan Bash (355 yards, 1 TD) leading the way.  Leading receivers for Washington include senior Kevin Hammerlund (64 receptions, 806 yards, 8 TDs), senior tight end Matt Page (42 receptions, 551 yards, six TDs), and junior Marcus Ramspott (34 receptions, 430 yards, 2 TDs).  Hammerlund is fifth among DIII receivers with 9.1 receptions per game and 12th in receiving yards.

Sophomore linebacker Jake Coon leads the team with 58 tackles, three interceptions and two forced fumbles in 2016, while sophomore defensive back Ben Marcus has added 55 tackles, eight pass breakups and an interception.  Senior defensive end Josiah Situmeang has paced the Bears with 4.5 sacks and a team-high 5.5 tackles for a loss.

Saturday's game will be the 31st meeting all-time between the two teams, with the Bears holding a 20-10 edge all-time against the Spartans.  CWRU is 4-9 all-time against Washington in games played in St. Louis.

Last year, the Spartans ended a three-game losing streak to the Bears with a 34-16 win in Cleveland.  CWRU trailed by a point, 14-13, at halftime, but the Spartans outscored the Bears 21-3 in the second half to secure the victory.  Rob Cuda passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns in the game, while rushing for an additional 45 yards.  The CWRU defense picked off Wash U. quarterback J.J. Tomlin six times in the game, including a program-record tying three interceptions for cornerback Adrian Cannon, and cornerback Nick Kwon finished the day with a team-leading 11 tackles, an interception and four pass breakups.

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, a 1988 graduate of John Carroll University, who has a career record of 89-41 (.685) 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 76-24, earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award four times (2007-09, '11).

Washington is under the leadership of head coach Larry Kindbom, who earned his 200th career victory during the team's 31-28 win at Millsaps College last weekend.  Kindbom, a 1974 graduate of Kalamazoo College, has a 172-106 record during his 28 seasons with the Bears, and an overall career ledger of 200-136-1 during his 34 years as a head coach, which includes a six-year stint with Kenyon.  He is currently the third winningest active head coach in Division III.

Case Western Reserve University is one of 17 undefeated teams remaining in Division III football, and the only undefeated team left in both the PAC and the UAA.  This is the seventh time since the federation of the University that the Spartans have opened a season with seven-straight wins.  CWRU has won at least eight games to start a season four times – 1984, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The Spartans are currently 6-0 in PAC contests this season, and are tied for first place in the conference with 13th-ranked Thomas More College.  Should both teams win each of their remaining PAC games, they will each earn a share of the 2016 PAC Championship.  In addition, Thomas More could clinch a potential tiebreaker this week for the NCAA postseason bid based on strength of schedule of conference games with a Washington and Jefferson win or a Geneva loss.  Case Western Reserve is aiming for its first PAC Championship, although prior to the federation of the University in 1967, Western Reserve University won PAC titles in 1955, 1958 and 1960.

After receiving votes in the poll throughout the year, the Spartans made their initial appearance of the campaign in the Top-25 this week, checking in at 25th in the rankings.  It marks the second-straight season that CWRU has appeared in the poll.  Case Western Reserve also received 61 votes in the American Football Coaches Association poll, second among all teams outside of the organization's top-25.

Senior receiver Brendan Lynch is closing in on a number of program single-season records.  Lynch is averaging 119.0 receiving yards per game this year, and with 833 total receiving yards, is 332 yards shy of Zach Homyk's record, set in 2010.  In addition, his nine receiving touchdowns are four shy of the program record of 13, set by Bryan Erb last season.

CWRU sophomore defensive end Cameron Brown was named both the UAA and the PAC Defensive Player of the Week, and selected to the Team of the Week, following his standout performance against Geneva College on Saturday.  Brown recorded 10 tackles in the game, including a sack and a pair for a loss, forced a pair of fumbles and recovered one, and notched a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup.  This was his second UAA and first PAC Player of the Week honor of the season.  In addition, he became the third Spartan this season to be named to the Team of the Week (joining Brendan Lynch and Justin Phan) and the first CWRU defensive lineman to earn the honor since Brian Calderone in 2008.

The Spartans defense has allowed opponents to score on just 52.9% of their red zone attempts, the ninth-best mark in Division III and the best among all PAC squads.