#16 CWRU Football Begins Road Swing at Thiel on Saturday

#16 CWRU Football Begins Road Swing at Thiel on Saturday

2017 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #6 – #16 CWRU (5-0, 4-0 PAC, 0-0 UAA) vs. Thiel College (1-4, 1-2 PAC)
Saturday, October 14, 2017 · 3:00 p.m. ET · Greenville, Pa. (Alumni Stadium)

Live Stats:

Click here for the complete game notes in .pdf format

No. 16 Case Western Reserve University will look to spoil Homecoming for Thiel College, when the Spartans travel to Alumni Stadium in Greenville, Pennsylvania on Saturday, October 14 to face the Tomcats, with kickoff scheduled for 3:00 p.m.

Case Western Reserve has won its first five games this season, including a perfect 4-0 record in PAC play and a 2-0 road ledger.  The Spartans have averaged 40.0 points per game (second in the PAC, 16th in DIII) on 474.6 yards of offense (second in the PAC, 23rd in DIII), including 318.0 passing yards (second in the PAC, 20th in DIII) and 156.6 rushing yards per game.  The defense leads the PAC with just 12.4 points allowed (18th in DIII), 224.2 total yards (eighth in DIII) and 77.0 rushing yards (17th in DIII) per game, while the team's 147.2 passing yards allowed per contest are second in the PAC and 26th in DIII.  The Spartans average 32:36 time of possession per game, and have a -1 turnover margin.

Senior quarterback Rob Cuda has completed 60.1% of his passes and thrown for 15 touchdowns with just three interceptions, and leads the PAC with 1,479 passing yards.  He has also run for 131 yards and two touchdowns this season.  Eight different players have caught a touchdown pass this year, led by four apiece for junior wide receiver Justin Phan (32 catches, 362 yards) and senior running back Aaron Aguilar (12 receptions, 138 yards).  Senior wide receiver Zak Hurd has paced the squad with 442 receiving yards on 15 catches and is third among all Division III players with 29.47 yards per reception.  The ground game has been anchored by senior Jacob Burke, who has carried the ball 107 times for 459 yards and eight touchdowns.

Senior linebacker Andrew Banathy leads the team with 27 tackles and is second on the squad with 4.5 tackles for a loss, including a pair of sacks.  Senior linebackers Alex Habeeb and Justin McMahon have each contributed 25 tackles.  Junior defensive end Cameron Brown has led the squad with six tackles for a loss, 3.5 sack and two quarterback hurries, while junior defensive tackle Ian Henderson has forced a pair of fumbles.  Sophomore safety Patrick Crossey has a team-best three pass breakups, with Crossey, Habeeb, and sophomore cornerbacks Kevin Chrissis and Luke Bedell all tallying one of the team's four interceptions during the year.

Senior placekicker Ben Carniol has made two-of-three field goal tries and 24-of-26 extra point attempts.  Freshman punter Quinn Saluan has punted 15 times for an average of 38.7 yards, including seven inside the 20 yard line.  Phan has returned 13 punts for an average of 12.1 yards, and senior safety Cody Calhoun has 10 kick returns for an average of 22.3 yards.


Thiel will enter Saturday's game with a 1-4 overall record, including a 1-2 conference ledger and a 0-2 mark in home contests in 2017.  The Tomcats are averaging 16.6 points per game on 308.0 total yards (193.6 rushing and 114.4 passing), while the defense has yielded 32.8 points per game on 435.2 yards (213.8 rushing and 221.4 passing).  The team averages a time of possession of 30:39 per game, and has a -7 turnover margin.

Sophomore quarterback Ronald Brown has completed 44.1% of his passes for 572 yards with seven touchdowns and four interceptions, and has run for another 111 yards.  Junior running back Nick Barca is second in the PAC and 12th in DIII with 145.0 rushing yards per game, running for a total of 725 yards and three touchdowns.  Thiel's two leading receivers are senior Ryan Rowland (14 receptions, 208 yards, one TD) and freshman Marcus Waddy (12 receptions, 214 yards, five TDs).

The Tomcats' leading tackler this season with 37 is senior linebacker Jake Elk, who has also led the team with four tackles for a loss, a sack, and three pass breakups.  Senior defensive end Shane Russell and sophomore linebacker John Sims each have a sack as well, and freshman cornerback Trou Johnson has the team's only interception.  Five different Thiel players have forced a fumble this season.

Sophomore kicker Chris Rosales has made one-of-four field goal tries this year and four-of-six extra points, and sophomore Dylan Kleckner has averaged 38.0 yards on 21 punts this season.  Barca has returned 12 kicks for an average of 15.5 yards, and senior Trey Andrews has returned five punts for an average of 6.6 yards.

CWRU Head Coach Greg Debeljak has now moved within four wins of 100 for his career, and stands at 96-42 (.696) during his 14 years with the program.  The 1998 graduate of John Carroll University 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 overall record of 83-25, (good for a .769 winning percentage), earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award five times (2007-09, 2011, and 2016).

Thiel is under the leadership of Head Coach Dan Blume, a 2006 graduate of Mount Union.  He has led the team to a 5-10 record during his two seasons with the squad.

Thiel leads the overall series 9-8, but the Spartans have won five-straight meetings with the Tomcats, including each of the three since CWRU rejoined the PAC as a football affiliate member in 2014.  Case Western Reserve is 3-5 all-time in road games against Thiel.

Last year, the Spartans picked up a 48-21 win over Thiel during Homecoming at DiSanto Field in Cleveland.  The Spartans outgained the Tomcats 534-380 during the game, including a 340-169 edge in yardage through the air.  During the game, Rob Cuda ran for three touchdowns and passed for two more, while completing 17-of-22 passes for 340 yards.  Former CWRU receiver Brendan Lynch had 219 receiving yards in the game, while Justin Phan caught six passes for 87 yards and Jacob Burke ran for 76 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Defensively, Justin McMahon led the team with 11 tackles, with Chanan Demery adding 10 tackles and a forced fumble, and Adrian Cannon notching an interception.


The Spartans are coming off their best defensive effort of the season, a 33-3 win over Bethany at home last Saturday.  The CWRU defense limited Bethany to just 159 total yards in the game, including just 61 through the air.  Rob Cuda threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns and ran for a fourth score, and Jacob Burke ran for 85 yards.

Thiel was on its bye week last Saturday, after suffering a 55-3 setback at Washington and Jefferson on Monday, October 2. 

The Spartans moved up in both major Division III polls this week.  In the D3football.com Top-25, the Spartans climbed one spot to 16th, while the squad rose two places to 17th in the AFCA Coaches Top-25 this week.  Washington and Jefferson (15th in the D3football.com poll and 12th in the AFCA poll) was the only other ranked PAC school, while Carnegie Mellon and Westminster received votes in each poll.

The Spartans are currently 4-0 in PAC games, and have a half-game lead over both Washington & Jefferson and Westminster, which each stand at 3-0.  CWRU and Washington and Jefferson are the only two remaining undefeated teams in the PAC, and two of just 23 undefeated teams left in all of Division III.

Case Western Reserve has won its last 11 games played during the month of October, dating back to the 2015 season.  The Spartans are 1-0 this October, following their win last Saturday over Bethany.

The Spartans have won both of their road games this season, and have won seven-straight road contests dating back to last year.  CWRU has outscored its opponents 278-109 in the seven games during the streak (39.7 to 15.6 per game), including a 69-28 margin this season.

The Spartans' defense leads all NCAA Division III teams this season, holding opponents to just a 17.9% conversion rate.  CWRU has allowed just 57 total first downs, the best in the PAC this season and sixth among all NCAA Division III squads.

Rob Cuda
is 260 yards shy of Eli Grant for second-place in school history in career passing yards, and is second in school history with 63 passing touchdowns… Cuda is eighth in school history with 1,753 rushing yards and fifth with 22 rushing touchdowns… Jacob Burke is 11 rushing yards shy of 10th-place in school history, and is third in school history with 25 rushing scores… Justin Phan is six receptions shy of 100 for his career and 17 receptions shy of moving into the top-10 in school history in the category… Phan is also second in school history with 602 punt return yards and fifth with a 10.4 average per return… Cody Calhoun is third in school history with 1,122 career kickoff return yards, and the program's all-time leader with 24.4 yards per return… Senior Ben Carniol is seventh in school history with 164 career points and second all-time among kickers in the category.