2016 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #9: CWRU (8-0, 6-0 PAC, 2-0 UAA) vs. Westminster College (6-2, 4-2 PAC)
Saturday, November 5, 2016 · 1:00 p.m. ET · New Wilmington, Pa. (Harold Burry Stadium)
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The 24th-ranked Case Western Reserve University football team will put its undefeated record to the test on Saturday, November 5th at 1:00 p.m., when the Spartans (8-0, 6-0 PAC, 2-0 UAA) travel to New Wilmington, Pennsylvania for their first-ever meeting with the Westminster College Titans (6-2, 4-2 PAC).
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Case Western Reserve will enter Saturday's game with an 8-0 overall record, including a 4-0 mark in road contests this season, following a 56-38 win at Washington University last Saturday. The Spartans feature one of the top offenses in the country this year, averaging 43.1 points per game (14th in DIII, first in the PAC) on 521.1 yards (10th in DIII, first in the PAC), including 276.5 rushing yards (11th in DIII) and 244.6 passing yards. The defense has yielded just 17.4 points per game (37th in DIII, first in the PAC) on 305.6 total yards per game (108.1 rushing and 197.5 passing). CWRU ranks 16th in Division III and leads the PAC with an average time of possession of 33:49, and has a +6 turnover margin.
Junior quarterback Rob Cuda has completed 62.5% of his passes this season for 1,885 yards and 16 touchdowns with six interceptions, while rushing for another 752 yards and 11 touchdowns (22nd in DIII). Junior running back Jacob Burke leads the team with 899 rushing yards (30th in DIII) and 15 touchdowns (sixth in DIII), while junior Jeffrie Brown Jr. (192 yards, two touchdowns), junior Myles Anthony (140 yards, two touchdowns) and junior Aaron Aguilar (130 yards, one touchdowns) have all be contributors to the running game this year. Among receivers, senior Brendan Lynch has 58 receptions for 914 yards (12th in DIII) and 11 touchdowns (12th in DIII), with Justin Phan catching 39 passes for 399 yards and two touchdowns and sophomore Hunter Tulloch notching 13 receptions for 243 yards and a score.
On the other side of the ball, junior linebacker Justin McMahon has paced the squad with 60 tackles (32 solo) this year, including three for a loss, with an interception and a fumble recovery. Sophomore Cameron Brown has a team-best nine tackles for a loss (including 2.5 sacks) and four quarterback hurries, while forcing two fumbles and recovering another two, and junior defensive lineman Dan Techman has a team-high four sacks on the year and three quarterback hurries. Junior linebacker Chanan Demery leads all Spartans with four interceptions and three forced fumbles to go along with 44 tackles, and senior co-captain and cornerback Nick Kwon has 44 tackles with two interceptions, eight pass breakups and two blocked kicks. Junior cornerback Adrian Cannon has added three interceptions and has broken up six passes this year.
SCOUTING THE TITANS
The Titans saw a three-game winning streak come to an end last Saturday with a 35-23 loss at Carnegie Mellon. The setback dropped Westminster to 6-2 overall, which includes a 4-1 record in home games this season. The team is averaging 33.6 points per game on 390.8 yards of offense, including 187.0 passing yards and 203.8 rushing yards. Defensively, Westminster has allowed 18.9 points per game on 301.1 yards (122.9 rushing and 178.3 passing). The Titans average 36:38 time of possession per game, and have a turnover margin of +4.
Junior quarterback Paul Columbo has thrown for 1,351 yards with 12 touchdowns and five interceptions, completing 55.9% of his passes during the year, and running for an additional 439 yards with three touchdowns. Junior running back Dom McKinley is the team's leading rusher with 680 yards and seven scores, while sophomore wide receiver Bryson Paulinellie leads the team with 331 yards on 24 receptions, including a pair of touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Jametrius Bentley has added 24 receptions for 283 yards and three touchdowns.
Senior linebacker Mac Quinn has tallied 65 tackles (40 solo) for the Titans, with six tackles for a loss and a pair of sacks, and senior defensive end Bobby Noble leads the team with six sacks on the year, and nine total tackles for a loss. Junior linebacker CJ Armstrong has a team-high 9.5 tackles for a loss (with 3.5 sacks) and leads Westminster with a pair of forced fumbles. In the secondary, senior free safety Gator Phillips leads the team with three interceptions, while junior cornerback Todd Jeter and sophomore cornerback Marvin Liberste are tied for the team lead with eight passes broken up.
Saturday's game will be the first-ever played between the Spartans and the Titans since the federation of the University in 1967. However, Westminster has won games against CWRU's predecessors, topping the Case Institute of Technology in 1933, and Western Reserve University in 1906.
Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, a 1988 graduate of John Carroll University, who has a career record of 90-41 (.687) 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 77-24, earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award four times (2007-09, '11).
Westminster is led by Head Coach Scott Benzel, who is now in his third year at the team's helm, and has an overall record of 19-10 with the Titans. He is a 1997 graduate of Mercyhurst College.
With its win over Washington on Saturday, the Spartans clinched at least a share of the 2016 University Athletic Association Championship, and can win the title outright with a victory against Carnegie Mellon in its season finale on November 12th. It marked the sixth UAA Championship in the program's history, along with titles in 1996, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011.
RACE FOR THE PAC TITLE
The Spartans are also in contention for the 2016 Presidents' Athletic Conference Championship, and can clinch a share of the title with wins in each of their final two games of the year against Westminster and Carnegie Mellon. Thomas More, ranked 13th in Division III, is 7-0 in conference games, and can secure at least a share of the PAC Championship and the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship field with a win over Thiel in its final game of the season on Saturday. Case Western Reserve has never won a PAC Championship, although prior to the University's federation in 1967, Western Reserve University claimed the conference title in 1955, 1958 and 1960.
AMONG THE UNDEFEATED
The Spartans are one of 15 remaining undefeated teams in Division III football, and the only remaining undefeated squad in either the PAC or the UAA. This season marks the fifth time in program history that CWRU has opened a season with eight-straight wins.
IN THE POLLS
The Spartans were ranked 24th in this week's D3football.com and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) polls, released on Monday. It marked the second-straight week that the Spartans have been ranked by D3football.com, climbing one spot for last week, while CWRU appeared in the AFCA Top-25 for the first time since the 2010 campaign.
HISTORIC DAY FOR THE OFFENSE
CWRU turned in one of its best offensive performances in program history during Saturday's win over Washington. The Spartans finished the game with 435 rushing yards, just two shy of the program record set against the Bears in 1986. In addition, the team's 707 total yards were just 59 shy of the program record of 766, set against Denison in 2002. The 56 points scored were the most this year by CWRU, and marked the third 50+ point game this season for the team.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
The CWRU starting offensive line of junior left tackle Ryan Merlau, junior left guard Ryan DeMarinis, junior center Gage Blair, senior right guard Dante Capicchioni and sophomore right tackle Steven Bachie were named to the D3football.com Team of the Week, following the their performance at Washington last Saturday. It marked the first time ever that the Spartan have had their offensive line selected to the Team of the Week.
UAA ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Junior quarterback Rob Cuda and junior cornerback Adrian Cannon were named the UAA Offensive and Defensive Athlete of the Week, respectively, following last week's win. Cuda, who earned the honor for the second time this season and fifth time over his career, completed 20-of-33 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for a career-high 191 yards. Cannon, who claimed his first UAA Athlete of the Week honor this season and second of his career, recorded a key interception in the first quarter and added career-highs with eight tackles and three pass breakups in the game.
LYNCH CHASING RECORDS
With two regular season games remaining, senior wide receiver Brendan Lynch is approaching a pair of program single-season records. With two touchdowns on Saturday against Washington, he is now just two shy of Bryan Erb's single-season record of 13, set last season. In addition, he is just 251 receiving yards away from Zach Homyk's single-season mark of 1,165, set in 2010, and is only 86 yards shy of the fourth 1,000-yard receiving year in CWRU history.
THIRD DOWN SUCCESS
The Spartans have been one of the top teams in the country this season on third downs on both sides of the ball. Offensively, CWRU has converted 49.1% of its third down chances (55-of-112), the 14th-best mark in Division III. Meanwhile, the defense has limited opponents to a 26.6% third down conversion rate (33-of-124), the 13th-best mark in Division III this season.
Junior running back Jacob Burke is 101 yards shy of recording the sixth 1,000-yard rushing season in program history, and becoming the first CWRU runner to eclipse the mark since Brandon McDowell in 2003. Burke has also run for 15 touchdowns this year, four shy of McDowell's program record set in 2001.