No. 17 CWRU Defense Leads Spartans to 33-3 Homecoming Win over Bethany

No. 17 CWRU Defense Leads Spartans to 33-3 Homecoming Win over Bethany

The Case Western Reserve University defense held Bethany College to just 159 yards of offense and a field goal, as the 17th-ranked ranked Spartans remained undefeated on the season with a 33-3 Homecoming victory over the Bison at DiSanto Field on Saturday afternoon.

The Spartans remained perfect on the season, improving to 5-0 overall and to 4-0 in the Presidents' Athletic Conference, while Bethany dropped to 0-6 with a 0-4 league record.  It was CWRU's 14th win in its last 15 games and marked the 96th victory of Head Coach Greg Debeljak's career.

It was the first time the Spartans held an opponent without a touchdown since a 55-0 win over Grove City on September 17th of last season.  Senior linebacker Andrew Banathy led the team with seven tackles and a sack, junior defensive end Cameron Brown tallied five tackles and a sack, and senior safety Cody Calhoun forced a fumble in the game.

For the offense, senior quarterback Rob Cuda completed 19-of-34 passes for 299 yards, throwing touchdowns to junior wide receiver Justin Phan, sophomore tight end Adam Zybko and senior running back Aaron Aguilar and rushing for another.  Senior receiver Zak Hurd collected five passes for 89 yards, with senior tight end Zech Medved adding three receptions for 61 yards, and Phan finishing the contest with a team-high five catches for 60 yards.  On the ground, senior running back Justin Burke ran for 85 yards for the day, as the Spartans' offense totaled 463 yards against the Bethany defense.

Senior kicker Ben Carniol put the Spartans on the board on the team's first drive of the game, capping off a grinding 14-play, 57 yard drive with a 30-yard field goal with 7:22 remaining in the opening quarter.  It was the first field goal attempted by the Spartans all season.

CWRU took a 10-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter, as Cuda found Zybko in the end zone for a 15-yard scoring strike.  After a three-and-out for the Bison, Cuda converted a fourth down and four with a 27-yard pass to Medved to the Bethany one yard line, setting up a one-yard sneak for a score for Cuda, extending the lead to 17-0 with 10:56 remaining in the half. 

The teams would exchange field goals during the remainder of the half, including a 25-yard kick from Carniol with time expiring in the quarter, to put the score at 20-3 heading into the break.  The Spartans' defense held Bethany to just 78 total yards of offense in the first half, including just 17 passing and 61 on the ground. 

Case Western Reserve opened the third quarter with a 67-yard drive, with Cuda finding Phan with a 14-yard pass to extend the lead to 27-3.  Early in the fourth quarter, Cuda secured the victory with his fourth touchdown of the game, this time a four-yard pass to Aguilar.  It was Aguilar's fourth touchdown reception in the last three games.

It was the most complete effort of the season for the CWRU defense, which restricted Bethany to just one third down conversion on 12 attempts.  The Spartans finished the game with a 33:50 to 26:10 edge in time of possession.

At the halfway point in the season, Case Western Reserve remained atop the Presidents' Athletic Conference standings, half a game ahead of both Westminster and #16 Washington & Jefferson, which each won on Saturday to improve to 3-0 in PAC play.

The win also marked the Spartans' ninth win in their last 11 Homecoming games.

Case Western Reserve will begin a two-game road swing next weekend, when the team travels to Greenville, Pennsylvania for a 3:00 p.m. game against PAC opponent Thiel College.