#18 CWRU Football to Face St. Vincent in Latrobe on Saturday

#18 CWRU Football to Face St. Vincent in Latrobe on Saturday

2017 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #4 - #18 CWRU (3-0, 2-0 PAC, 0-0 UAA) at Saint Vincent College (2-2, 1-1 PAC)
Saturday, September 30, 2017 · 1:00 p.m. ET · Latrobe, Pa. (Chuck Noll Field)

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Case Western Reserve University will hit the road for the second time this season, when the 18th-ranked Spartans (3-0, 2-0 PAC, 0-0 UAA) travel to Latrobe, Pennsylvania for a 1:00 p.m. matchup against the Presidents' Athletic Conference rival Saint Vincent College Bearcats (2-2, 1-1 PAC) at Chuck Noll Field.

Case Western Reserve will enter Saturday's game with an overall record of 3-0, including a 2-0 record in PAC games, and a 1-0 mark in road contests.  CWRU is averaging a PAC-leading 44.0 points per game (13th in Division III) on 489.7 yards of offense per contest (195.0 rushing yards and 294.7 passing yards).  Defensively, the Spartans have yielded just 15.0 points per game on 229.0 yards (81.0 rushing and 148.0 passing).  The team has a +1 turnover margin and has held an edge in time of possession per game, 32:07 to 27:53.

Senior quarterback Rob Cuda has completed 60.6% of his passes this season for 823 yards with eight touchdowns and two interceptions, while adding another 130 yards on the ground.  Senior running back Jacob Burke has led the rushing attack with 297 yards and eight scores.  Junior Justin Phan leads all CWRU receivers with 25 catches, 249 yards and three touchdowns, with senior receiver Zak Hurd adding six receptions for 205 yards and a score.

On the other side of the ball, senior linebacker Justin McMahon has paced the squad with 20 tackles and 3.0 tackles for a loss, and senior linebacker Andrew Banathy adding 15 tackles.  Junior defensive end Cameron Brown has a Spartan-leading 1.5 sacks, junior defensive tackle Ian Henderson has forced a pair of fumbles, and four different CWRU players (senior linebacker Alex Habeeb, sophomore safety Patrick Crossey, sophomore cornerback Kevin Chrissis and sophomore cornerback Luke Bedell) each have an interception.

Phan leads the team with 11.4 yards per punt return, and senior safety Cody Calhoun has a team-best 24.7 yards per kick return.  Senior kicker Ben Carniol has made 16-of-17 extra point attempts, with freshman punter Quinn Saluan averaging 39.8 yards per punt.

Saint Vincent currently stands at 2-2 on the year, including a 1-1 PAC record and a 1-1 mark at home.  The squad is averaging 26.0 points per game in 2017 on 379.5 yards of total offense (120.5 rushing and 259.0 passing), while allowing 28.3 points per game on 380.2 yards (229.5 rushing and 150.8 passing).  The Bearcats have a +2 turnover margin and average 28:23 time of possession per game compared to 31:37 for their opponents.

Sophomore Michael Navarro has seen the majority of time at quarterback for the Bearcats, completing 66.1% of his passing for 960 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions.  Senior tailback Jhanard Dorsett has run for 410 yards and four scores this year, while senior wide receiver Damon Black Jr. is the PAC leader and fourth in Division III with 39 receptions for 386 yards and two touchdowns.  Senior receiver DJ Oceant-Kelly has 14 receptions for 312 yards and four scores this year.

Senior linebacker Kim Ornis and freshman linebacker Hauns White are tied for the team lead with 32 tackles apiece, and Ornis and sophomore tackle Izaak Gray has a Bearcat-leading two sacks apiece.  Senior safety Jean Cherilus had paced the squad with 4.5 tackles for a loss, and sophomore cornerback Le'ton Quao has a pair of interceptions.  Both Cherilus and junior safety Cameron Mack have forced three fumbles this season.

Junior kicker Sam Elliott has made two of three field goal attempts and 12 of 14 extra point tries, and sophomore punter Christian Witchey is averaging 39.0 yards per punt.  Dorsett leads the team's kick return effort with 19.6 yards per return, while Black Jr. has averaged 12.8 yards per punt return.

Saturday's game will be the fifth meeting all-time between the two teams, with the Spartans holding a 3-1 record in the series.  CWRU lost the only game played in Latrobe, falling 23-20 to the Bearcats during the 2014 season, the Spartans' first year as a football affiliate member of the PAC.

CWRU has won each of the last two meetings with Saint Vincent, including a 53-28 punishing of the Bearcats last season.  In the game, Jacob Burke rushed for 183 yards and a score, while Rob Cuda added 99 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, while throwing for 291 yards and three touchdowns.  Receiver Hunter Tulloch caught three passes in the game for 136 yards and a score, and Andrew Banathy registered 11 tackles.

Case Western Reserve is coached by Greg Debeljak, a 1988 graduate of John Carroll University, who has a career record of 94-42 (.691) 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 81-25 (.764), earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award five times (2007-09, '11, '16).

Saint Vincent College is led by fourth-year Head Coach Ron Dolciato, who has gone 15-19 during his time at the team's helm.  He is a 1990 graduate of John Carroll University, and spent time on the same coaching staff as Debeljak at their alma mater, prior to the two arriving at their current posts.

The Spartans are coming off a 56-21 thrashing of Waynesburg University at DiSanto Field last Saturday.  CWRU's offense collected 595 total yards in the game, including 281 on the ground, led by a 137-yard, three-touchdown effort from Jacob Burke.  The CWRU defense held the Yellow Jackets to just 74 rushing yards in the game, and 255 total yards.

Saint Vincent will be looking to bounce back after a 24-14 loss on the road to Grove City College last Saturday, which ended a 33-game losing streak for the Wolverines.  Damon Black Jr. caught nine passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns in the game, and Jean Cherilus finished the contest with 10 total tackles.

The Spartans held steady at 18th in the latest D3football.com Top-25, released on Sunday afternoon.  Case Western Reserve is one of two PAC teams ranked in the poll, along with #17 Washington and Jefferson College, while Carnegie Mellon University also received votes in the rankings.

Case Western Reserve will enter the weekend as the PAC leader and 12th overall in Division III with just 229.0 yards allowed per game this season.  The Spartans are also ranked first in the conference with just 81.0 rushing yards allowed per game (27th in DIII) and defensive third-down percentage with a 23.8% mark (20th in DIII), and are 41st in DIII with 15.0 points allowed per game.

Jacob Burke
has run for eight touchdowns through three games this season, including seven in his last two games.  He currently is second in the PAC and fifth in Division III in rushing touchdowns, and second in the PAC and seventh in Division III with 16.0 points per game.  With his three rushing touchdowns against Waynesburg on Saturday, he moved into third place in school history with 25 career rushing touchdowns, trailing only Brandon McDowell (39 rushing TDs) and Corey Checkan (32 rushing TDs) in the program's record book.

Zak Hurd
has emerged as a deep threat for the Spartans this season, averaging 34.17 yards per catch.  He will enter this weekend leading all PAC receivers in the category, and ranked fourth among NCAA Division III players this season.

The Spartans' defense has gotten stronger as the game has gone on this year, yielding just 14 total second half points through three games in 2017.  The solid second half play by the defense has allowed CWRU to outscore its opposition 76-14 during the final 30 minutes of games this year.

Justin Phan
is 13 receptions away from 100 for his career, and 79 yards away from 1,000.  Rob Cuda is 124 passing yards away from 6,000 and 248 rushing yards away from 2,000.  Jacob Burke is 46 rushing yards away from 1,500.