#25 CWRU Runs Over WashU 56-38 to Clinch Share of 2016 UAA Title

James Byard/WUSTL Photos
James Byard/WUSTL Photos

The Case Western Reserve University offense put together its best performance of the season on Saturday, collecting 707 total yards, including 435 on the ground, en route to a 56-38 win over Washington University (Mo.), as the 25th-ranked Spartans clinched at least a share of their first University Athletic Association Championship since 2011.

With the win, Case Western Reserve improved to 2-0 in UAA play, securing a first-place finish in the conference, with a chance to clinch outright when the team takes on Carnegie Mellon University in its regular-season finale at home on November 12th.  The UAA title is the sixth in the history of the CWRU football program, along with championships in 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The Spartans improved to 8-0 overall on the year, marking just the fifth time in school history the team has won each of its first eight games in a season.  Washington dropped to 6-2 overall with the loss, and to 1-1 in the UAA.

The Spartans' 435 rushing yards were just two shy of the program record, set against Washington in 1986, while the 707 total yards of offense were just 59 yards short of the school record.  CWRU also set a single-game school record with 37 first downs on Saturday, while the team's 56 points were a season high and the most since the team scored 59 against Bethany last season.

Junior quarterback Rob Cuda rushed for a career-high 191 yards in the game, while also completing 20-of-33 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns.  Junior running back Jacob Burke finished the game with four touchdowns, including three rushing, and recorded his fourth 100-yard rushing effort of the year with 164 yards on the ground.  Junior running back Myles Anthony added a pair of rushing scores, while senior wide receiver Brendan Lynch caught five passes for 81 yards and two touchdowns, and sophomore wide receiver Justin Phan added seven catches for 68 yards.

Washington scored on a 56-yard touchdown catch and run by Austin Smestad on the fourth play of the game, but the Spartans responded with 21 unanswered points.  On the Spartans' first drive of the game, Burke caught a six-yard pass from Cuda to tie the score with 10:07 remaining in the first, and following an interception by junior cornerback Adrian Cannon on the next drive, Burke struck again, this time on a six-yard touchdown run with 8:20 remaining in the quarter.

The Bears would punt on their next drive, pinning the Spartans back inside their own one yard line.  However, Case Western Reserve drove 99 yards on 12 plays in just over four minutes, extending their lead to 21-7 on a 15-yard touchdown strike from Cuda to Lynch with 2:35 remaining in the first.  The Bears pulled back within a touchdown to end the quarter on a 21-yard scoring catch by tight end Matt Page.

Anthony extended the Spartans' lead back to two touchdowns with a five yard run early in the second quarter, giving CWRU its fourth touchdown in as many drives to start the game, and Burke pushed the Spartans' advantage to 35-14 with a one yard run on fourth and goal with 3:47 left in the second, his third score of the half.  The Bears would close the lead to 35-24 by the end of the half, scoring 10-straight points in the final two minutes on a 13-yard touchdown pass from J.J. Tomlin to Page and a field goal by Dan Kalvaitis as time expired.

The Spartans scored on five of their seven drives in the first half, racking up 445 yards of total offense and 238 rushing yards.  Cuda recorded 122 rushing yards in the first half alone, while completing 16-of-22 passes for two TDs and 207 yards.

Case Western Reserve opened the second half with a touchdown on their first drive, as Cuda evaded a sack on fourth and seven, creating time for Lynch to come open, and finding him for a 22-yard catch and run touchdown.  It was the 11th touchdown reception of the year for Lynch, two shy of the program's single-season record.

After a 16-yard run by Smestad with 9:52 remaining in the half brought the Spartans' lead back down to 11, Burke rushed for a 43-yard touchdown, his third of the game and 15th of the season (four shy of the CWRU single-season record), giving CWRU a 49-31 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.  Early in the fourth, Anthony recorded a two-yard touchdown, his second of the game, to put the Spartans on top 56-31 with 13:59 remaining, capping off the CWRU scoring on the day.

Cuda's 191 rushing yards surpassed his previous career high of 145 yards, set against Saint Vincent College on September 19, 2015.  It was his third 100-yard rushing game of the season and the sixth of his career.

Defensively, freshman safety Patrick Crossey led the team with a career-high 10 tackles, while Cannon added eight tackles, three pass breakups and the interception, his fourth in the last two games he's played against Washington.

The Spartans will now turn their attention back towards Presidents' Athletic Conference play next weekend, when the team wraps-up its regular season road slate against Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 5th at 1:00 p.m.