#21 CWRU Football to Host CMU with PAC Title & Undefeated Season on the Line

#21 CWRU Football to Host CMU with PAC Title & Undefeated Season on the Line

2016 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #10: CWRU (9-0, 7-0 PAC, 2-0 UAA) vs. Carnegie Mellon University (6-3, 5-2 PAC, 1-1 UAA)
Saturday, November 12, 2016 · 2:00 p.m. ET · Cleveland, Ohio (DiSanto Field)

Live Stats: http://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2016-17/boxscores/20161112_sr5e.xml
Live Video: http://case.edu/livestream/athletics/
Andrew Luftglass (Play-by-Play), Eddy Jansen (Color Commentary) 

To download the complete game notes, click here.

Case Western Reserve University (9-0, 7-0 PAC, 2-0 UAA) will look to secure a share of its first-ever Presidents' Athletic Conference Title, the outright University Athletic Association Championship, and the fifth undefeated regular season in program history, when the 21st-ranked Spartans play host to Carnegie Mellon University (6-3, 5-2 PAC, 1-1 UAA) at DiSanto Field for the 31st-Annual Academic Bowl on Saturday, November 12th at 2:00 p.m.

Prior to the start of the game, the team will honor the 13 graduating seniors who will be playing in the final regular season games of their collegiate careers – linebacker Tim Briercheck, offensive lineman Dante Capicchioni, defensive lineman Tyler Doty, quarterback Stephen Guenther, cornerback Nick Kwon, offensive lineman Nate Lewis, wide receiver Brendan Lynch, linebacker Zach Lyon, linebacker Jeep Madison, safety John McKelvey, tight end Zech Medved, offensive lineman Robbie Sabatelle and cornerback Owen Williams.  Together, these 13 players have helped the Spartans record 24 wins over the last four season and a winning percentage of .632.

Case Western Reserve will also be honoring the Case Institute of Technology – Western Reserve University rivalry at Saturday's game, with members of each of the schools taking part as honorary captains during the coin toss on Saturday. 

The Spartans, who earned at least a share of their first UAA Championship since 2011 and sixth overall with a win over Washington University (Mo.) two weeks ago, can clinch the outright title with a victory over Carnegie Mellon.  In addition, a win in the game would give CWRU a share of the PAC Championship, along with 13th-ranked Thomas More College, which is on its bye week this week and ended the regular season with a 8-0 conference ledger.

Although Case Western Reserve has never won a PAC Championship in its history, prior to the federation of the University, Western Reserve University claimed PAC Titles in 1955, 1958 and 1960.

While the Spartans have an opportunity to share the PAC Championship with Thomas More, the Saints have clinched the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs, by virtue of the third PAC tiebreaker (conference strength of schedule).  However, with a win over the Tartans, the Spartans can help improve their resume for one of the six Pool C at-large bids to the playoff field.  The 32-team bracket, including first round hosts, will be announced via a webcast on ncaa.com on Sunday, November 13th at 6:00 p.m.

Case Western Reserve stands at 9-0 on the season and 7-0 in PAC play, following the team's come-from-behind 26-22 win at Westminster College last Saturday.  Including in the team's overall ledger is a record of 4-0 in home games this year.  The Spartans have scored 41.2 points per game this season (19th in Division III), while averaging 503.1 yards of offense per contest (14th in Division III), including 257.1 rushing yards (17th in DIII) and 246.0 passing yards.  Defensively, the team has yielded 17.9 points per game (36th in DIII) on 308.3 total yards (43rd in DIII), including 125.9 rushing yards and 182.4 passing yards.  Case Western Reserve has a +8 turnover margin this year, and ranks 22nd in Division III with 33:07 minutes of possession per game.

Junior quarterback Rob Cuda has started all nine games under center for the Spartans this year, completing 60.7% of his passes for 2,142 yards and 18 touchdowns with eight interceptions, while rushing for 785 yards and 11 touchdowns.  Junior running back Jacob Burke has carried the ball 156 times for 977 yards and 16 touchdowns (seventh in DIII).  Senior wide receiver Brendan Lynch leads the team with 63 receptions, 1,018 yards (13th in DIII) and 12 touchdowns (12th in DIII), while sophomore Justin Phan has 43 receptions for 454 yards and three TDs, sophomore Joey Spitalli has 15 receptions for 150 yards and a score, and sophomore Hunter Tulloch has 13 receptions for 243 yards and a TD.

Junior linebacker Justin McMahon is the team's leading tackler with 66 stops this season, including 35 solo and three for a loss.  Freshman safety Patrick Crossey has added 55 tackles, three forced fumbles and five passes defender, and senior cornerback Nick Kwon has 50 tackles, three interceptions and eight pass breakups.  Sophomore defensive end Cameron Brown has paced all Spartan players with 10.5 tackles for a loss, including 2.5 sacks, and six quarterback hurries, while junior defensive lineman Dan Techman had a team-leading four sacks.  Junior linebacker Chanan Demery leads all Spartans with four interceptions and three forced fumbles, and junior cornerback Adrian Cannon has added three interceptions for the season.

Carnegie Mellon will carry the momentum of a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game, as the Tartans stand at 6-3 overall, 5-2 in the PAC, and 2-2 in road contests.  The team is coming off a 37-24 win over the University of Chicago last weekend that saw the team's UAA record climb to 1-1 on the year.  The Tartans are averaging 37.3 points per game (43rd in DIII) on 431.7 yards of offense, including 199.3 rushing and 232.2 passing yards per game.  Defensively, the team has allowed 28.3 points per contest on 414.7 yards, including 155.3 rushing and 259.3 passing yards per game.  Carnegie Mellon has a +3 turnover margin and is averaging 30:12 minutes of possession per game.

The heart of the Tartans' offense is junior running back Sam Benger, who is third among all NCAA Division III players with 21 rushing touchdowns and 1,423 rushing yards.  Sophomore quarterback Alex Cline has completed 54.5% of his passes for 1,503 yards and 13 touchdowns with six interceptions.  The team's leading receiver is junior John Prather with 51 receptions for 833 yards and seven touchdowns, while junior Tommy Mansfield (27 receptions, 433 yards, three TDs) has contributed as well.

Senior Brian Khoury has been a force on the defensive line for the Tartans, with 11.5 sacks and 14.5 total tackles for a loss.  Junior linebacker Stanley Bikulege leads the team with 83 total tackles, including 5.5 for a loss, while junior linebacker Quentin Wolfe and senior safety Samer Abdelmoty have 58 tackles apiece.  Four Carnegie Mellon players – junior linebacker Kyle Brittain, senior safety Malcolm Guya, senior cornerback Aaryn Watson and junior linebacker Sean Graff – are each tied for the team lead with two interceptions apiece.

Saturday will mark the 31st playing of the Academic Bowl between Case Western Reserve and Carnegie Mellon.  While the Tartans have an overall 27-18 edge in all-time matchups between the two teams, the Spartans have claimed wins in 14 of the 30 games since the series was officially dubbed the Academic Bowl in 1986.

The Spartans had won the previous eight meetings with Carnegie Mellon, before the Tartans ended the streak with a 52-42 win last season, in the highest-scoring game in Academic Bowl history.  Rob Cuda threw for 332 yards and two touchdowns, while running for another 61 yards and a pair of scores in the game.  For the Tartans, Sam Benger accounted for 237 of the team's 329 rushing yards in the game.

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, a 1988 graduate of John Carroll University, who has a career record of 91-41 (.689) during his 13 seasons with the team. Debeljak has led the Spartans to five UAA Championships in the last 10 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 78-24, earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award four times (2007-09, '11).

Carnegie Mellon is led by Rich Lackner, who is a 1979 alumnus of the University.  In his 31 seasons as a head coach, all with the Tartans, he has a career record of 202-109-2, good for a .649 winning percentage.

The Spartans continued to climb in this week's D3football.com Top-25, rising from 24th last week to 21st this week.  It marks the third-straight week that the Spartans have been ranked in the poll.  Case Western Reserve was also ranked 20th in this week's American Football Coaches Association Poll, moving up four spots from last week, when the team appeared in the organization's rankings for the first time since 2010.

The Spartans are one of just 12 remaining undefeated teams in Division III this season, and the only unbeaten team in either the PAC or the UAA.  A win over Carnegie Mellon would give Case Western Reserve its fifth undefeated regular season in program history, along with unblemished campaigns in 1984, 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The Spartans are 44-18 all-time in home games at DiSanto Field, which first opened during the 2005 season.  Included in the overall record is a 14-4 mark at home since the start of the 2013 season, good for a .778 winning percentage.  Case Western Reserve is 4-0 at home this year, outscoring its three opponents 162-80 at DiSanto Field.  Should the Spartans win on Saturday, it will be their first undefeated regular season at home since 2009.

Case Western Reserve freshman safety Patrick Crossey claimed a pair of weekly honors, after recording 13 tackles (the most by a CWRU player in a game this season) and a forced fumble during the team's win over Westminster College.  Crossey was named the PAC Rookie of the Week for the second time this season, while also earning UAA Defensive Player of the Week honors.

Case Western Reserve junior running back Jacob Burke will enter Saturday's game just 23 yards shy of 1,000 for the season.  Should he reach the mark, he will become just the sixth 1,000-yard rusher in program history, and the first since Brandon McDowell in 2003.  In addition, his 16 rushing touchdowns this season are only three shy of the program's single-season record, set by McDowell in 2001.

Senior wide receiver Brendan Lynch will come into Saturday's matchup against the Tartans just 147 receiving yards shy of the program's single-season record of 1,156, set by Zach Homyk in 2010.  He is also just one touchdown reception shy of Bryan Erb's single-season record of 13, set last year.  Last week, Lynch broke 100 yards in a game for the third time this season, catching five passes for 104 yards and a touchdown, and surpassed the 1,000-yard receiving mark for just the fourth time in a season in program history.