Behind six forced turnovers by the defense and a two rushing touchdowns apiece from senior quarterback Rob Cuda and senior running back Jacob Burke, the 17th-ranked Case Western Reserve University Spartans cruised to their seventh-straight win, topping Geneva College 45-7 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania on Saturday night.
With three games left in the regular season and two in their Presidents' Athletic Conference schedule, the Spartans improved to 7-0 overall remained a half game up on 15th-ranked Washington & Jefferson for first place in the conference with a 6-0 PAC ledger. Geneva dropped to 3-4 overall and to 2-3 in the league.
Cuda completed 12-of-19 passes in the game for 140 yards and a score, while rushing for another 60 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Burke led the rushing attack with 67 yards and two more touchdowns, while senior tight end Zech Medved caught four passes for 59 yards, including a game-long 32 yard reception. The Spartans converted eight-of-11 third down attempts on Saturday, and totaled 333 yards in the game.
The CWRU defense held its opponent to just one touchdown or fewer for the third time this season, while limiting the Golden Tornadoes' triple-option offense to just 236 total yards, including 220 on the ground. The defensive effort included holding the nation's leading rusher entering the weekend, Trewon Marshall, to just 53 yards in the game. Sophomore safety Patrick Crossey and freshman Nick Kadlecik each intercepted passes, while senior linebacker Alex Habeeb recovered a pair of fumbles, and senior linebackers Zach Lyon and Justin McMahon each recovered one. McMahon returned his fumble 68 yards for a touchdown.
The Spartans struck for three touchdowns in the first quarter of the game, starting their scoring with an 11-play, 63-yard drive, with 56 yards coming on runs by Cuda, including a one-yard scoring run with 10:29 remaining in the quarter. After senior safety Cody Calhoun thwarted a fake-punt attempt by the Golden Tornadoes on their own 14 yard line, Cuda found junior wide receiver Justin Phan with a nine-yard pass, his fifth receiving touchdown of the year, extending the lead to 14-0 with 7:18 left in the first. With the clock running down in the quarter, McMahon recovered a fumble from Geneva quarterback Bryan Stafford, returning it 68 yards for a touchdown to give CWRU a 21-0 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Habeeb recovered another Geneva fumble early in the second quarter, setting up a three-yard touchdown run by Burke on a direct snap, giving CWRU a 28-0 lead with 10:55 left in the half. Geneva would get on the board late in the second quarter, capping off a grinding 15-play, 91 yard drive with a 13-yard run by Stafford, cutting CWRU's advantage to 28-7 heading into the halftime break.
The Spartans' defense forced a three-and-out on the Golden Tornadoes' first drive of the second half, and responded quickly, going 62 yards downfield in just 1:41, and scoring on a 26-yard run by Burke to extend the lead to 35-7 with 11:20 remaining in the third. After another three-and-out by the CWRU defense, Cuda notched his second one-yard touchdown run of the game to complete a 10-play, 72 yard drive. A 26-yard field goal by senior Ben Carniol early in the fourth gave CWRU a 45-7 lead, and capped off their scoring on the day.
Burke's two rushing touchdowns in the game give him 11 for the season, while Cuda's two pushed his total to five for the campaign. Cuda has also thrown for 21 touchdowns in 2017, with just five interceptions.
The win moved Head Coach Greg Debeljak within two of 100 for his career, and to 98-41 overall.
The Spartans will be off from Presidents' Athletic Conference play next weekend, returning home to DiSanto Field for their first University Athletic Association matchup of the year against Washington University (Mo.). Kickoff in Cleveland is scheduled for 12:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 28th.