#17 CWRU to Host Grove City in PAC & Home-Opening Game

#17 CWRU to Host Grove City in PAC & Home-Opening Game

2017 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #2 – #17 CWRU (1-0, 0-0 PAC, 0-0 UAA) vs. Grove City (0-2, 0-0 PAC)
Saturday, September 16, 2017 · 7:00 p.m. ET · Cleveland, Ohio (DiSanto Field)

Live Stats:

Click here for the complete game notes in .pdf format

The 17th-ranked Case Western Reserve University Spartans (1-0, 0-0 PAC, 0-0 UAA) will open their 2017 home schedule on Saturday, September 16th at 7:00 p.m., when the team plays host to the Grove City College Wolverines (0-2, 0-0 PAC) at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio.  Saturday will also mark the first Presidents' Athletic Conference game of the season for both teams.

The Spartans are 1-0 on the season after opening the campaign with a 34-14 win on the road against the University of Chicago on September 2 in a non-conference game.  Case Western Reserve outgained Chicago 321-194 in the game, including an edge of 266-177 passing yards, while Chicago outgained the Spartans on the ground 77-55.  The Spartans did not turn the ball over in the game, while forcing a pair of turnovers, and held an edge in time of possession, 35:53 to 24:07.

Senior quarterback Rob Cuda completed 26-of-41 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.  Senior running back Jacob Burke led the team on the ground with 56 yards and a score, and junior wide receiver Justin Phan caught 15 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.  Senior tight end Zech Medved added three receptions for 44 yards, and senior wide receiver Zak Hurd caught a pair of passes for 40 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown.

On defense, senior defensive end Dan Techman and senior linebacker Justin McMahon led the team with eight tackles apiece.  Both sophomore defensive lineman Andrew Lease and senior quarterback Adrian Cannon tallied a sack in the game, while sophomore safety Patrick Crossey and sophomore cornerback Kevin Chrissis recorded interceptions.  Chrissis returned his third-quarter interception 29 yards for a touchdown.

On special teams, senior Cody Calhoun averaged 30.7 yards per kick return, and Phan averaged 30.5 yards per punt return, including a 52-yard run back.  Senior placekicker Ben Carniol converted four-of-five extra point attempts in the game.

Grove City will be looking for its first win of the season, as the team will enter the game with a record of 0-2, including a 42-31 loss at Juniata in week one, and a 47-7 setback at home against Washington and Jefferson last Saturday that did not count towards the PAC standings.  The Wolverines are averaging 19.0 points per game on 94.5 rushing yards and 259.0 passing yards per game, while the defense has yielded 44.5 points per contest on 130.0 rushing yards and 393.0 passing yards.  Grove City has held an edge in time of possession over its opponents, 33:14 to 26:45, and has a -3 turnover margin.

Quarterbacks Brett Laffoon (70.4%, 292 yards, three TDs, 1 interception) and Randall Labrie (64.7%, 220 yards, 2 interceptions) have each started a game for Grove City.  The team's leading rusher is Wesley Schools with 103 yards and two touchdowns, while Nick Ponikvar (16 receptions, 168 yards, 1 TD) and Cody Gustafson (10 receptions, 160 yards) are the team's leading receivers.

Leading tacklers for Grove City include safety Ethan Conto (13 tackles), linebacker Carl Jaszcar (12 tackles), and linebacker Andrew Seifert (12 tackles).  Seifert also has the team's only interception on the campaign, and defensive end Jacob Armbrecht has paced the squad with one sack.  Colton Young has already blocked three kicks for the Wolverines this season.

Jacob Ross has averaged 16.2 yards per kick return and has returned one punt for 25 yards.  Mitch Causer is one-for-two on field goal attempts, and five-for-five on extra point tries.  Caleb Brake is averaging 40.1 yards per punt.


This will be the third meeting all-time between the two teams, and the first-ever at DiSanto Field.  The Spartans fell to Grove City 40-33 in the first matchup in 2006, but earned a 55-0 win over the Wolverines when the two met last season in Grove City, Pennsylvania.

Last year's 55-0 win was the largest margin of victory by a Spartan team since a 70-12 win over Oberlin in 1998.  Rob Cuda threw for 337 yards and four touchdowns, while running for a fifth score, and former Spartan Brendan Lynch matched a program record with 222 receiving yards.  Defensively, the Spartans forced four turnovers and limited the Wolverines to just 136 total yards in the shutout effort.

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, a 1988 graduate of John Carroll University, who has a career record of 92-42 (.687) during his 14 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 79-25, earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award five times (2007-09, '11, '16).

Grove City is led by second-year head coach Andrew DiDonato, a 2010 graduate of Grove City.  He has a career record of 0-12 during his two seasons with the squad.

The Spartans are coming off a season-opening 34-14 win over the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois last weekend.  After trailing 14-0 after one quarter, the Spartans' defense shut out the Maroons the remainder of the game, while the offense totaled 34 unanswered points, including four touchdowns during a nine-minute, eight-second stretch during the third and fourth quarters.  With the win, the Spartans ended their all-time series against Chicago, dating back to the 1990, with a 14-14 record.

Following their opening week victory, the Spartans moved up three spots in the D3football.com rankings from 22nd to 19th, and then moved up two more spots following the bye week to 17th.  The Spartans are one of two PAC teams currently featured in the poll, along with no. 18 Washington & Jefferson, while Thomas More received votes in the latest rankings.

Justin Phan
matched the program's single-game record with his 15-reception effort against Chicago, which included eight catches in the third quarter alone.  He equaled the record held by former Spartan Jason Cellura, who caught 15 passes in games against Kalamazoo in 2002 and against Wooster in 2003.  He finished the game with 112 receiving yards and a pair of touchdowns.

After his record-setting receiving performance, Phan was named the UAA Offensive Player of the Week, marking the third weekly conference honor of his career (he was named the UAA Special Teams Player of the Week twice last season).  In addition, CWRU safety and kick returner Cody Calhoun was named the UAA Special Team Player of the Week last week, after returning three kicks for a UAA-leading average of 30.7 yards per return.

The Spartans are 44-19 all-time in home games at DiSanto Field, which first opened during the 2005 season.  Included in the overall record is a 14-5 mark at home since the start of the 2013 season, good for a .737 winning percentage.  Case Western Reserve was 4-1 at home last year, outscoring its five opponents 181-106 at DiSanto Field.

The Spartans are 11-2 in home-opening games under Head Coach Greg Debeljak, including a 45-17 win over Chicago last season.  Case Western Reserve has won its last three home-opening games by a combined score of 124-31.

Case Western Reserve is 24-3 in its last 27 night games dating back to the 2006 season, including a 6-0 record in night games over the last two seasons, and a 3-0 mark last year.  Saturday's game will be the first of three scheduled night games this season for the Spartans, including a 7:00 p.m. games against Waynesburg on September 23 at DiSanto Field, and on the road against Geneva on October 21.

In their season-opening game against Chicago, the Spartans did not allow the Maroons to convert a third-down attempt.  Overall, Chicago went 0-for-12 on third down during the game, and the Spartans have held their opponents without a third-down conversion over their last 13 attempts, dating back to their final game of last season.

Case Western Reserve has gone 9-1 following bye weeks over the last 10 seasons, including the win over Grove City last year.  The Spartans have outscored their last two post-bye week opponents by a combined score of 104-14.

The Spartans' game against Grove City will be the first football game played on the new turf, which was installed on DiSanto Field over the summer.  The new surface features FieldTurf Revolution 360 fiber with an EcoSense EPDM fill.  The Revolution 360 surface is FieldTurf's top-of-the-line product, and has been used at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (future home of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons and MLS' Atlanta United) and Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts (home of the NFL's New England Patriots and MLS' New England Revolution).