2017 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #9 – #16 CWRU (8-0, 6-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) vs. Westminster College (6-2, 5-1 PAC)
Saturday, November 4, 2017 · 1:00 p.m. ET · Cleveland, Ohio (DiSanto Field)
Live Stats: http://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2017-18/boxscores/20171104_hutx.xml
Andrew Luftglass (play-by-play) & Eddy Jansen (color commentary)
Click here for the complete game notes in .pdf format
Case Western Reserve University (8-0, 6-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA), ranked 16th in this week's D3football.com Top-25 Poll, will host Westminster College (6-2, 5-1 PAC) for a key Presidents' Athletic Conference matchup at DiSanto Field on Saturday, November 4th at 1:00 p.m. Saturday will also be the Spartans' final regular season home game, and will feature a special 'Senior Day' ceremony prior to the start of the game.
The Spartans will be recognizing the team's 26 graduating senior players with a special ceremony prior to the game against Westminster. Together, the group will enter Saturday's game with a 27-11 record during their four seasons together, including a 21-8 mark in PAC play and a UAA Championship in 2016.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Case Western Reserve has won its first eight games this season, including a perfect 6-0 record in PAC play and a 4-0 home ledger. The Spartans have averaged 44.1 points per game (first in the PAC, 10th in DIII) on 471.6 yards of offense (second in the PAC, 21st in DIII), including 289.1 passing yards (second in the PAC, 30th in DIII) and 182.5 rushing yards per game. The defense leads the PAC with just 15.6 points allowed (36th in DIII), 240.4 total yards (14th in DIII), and 99.8 rushing yards (37th in DIII) per game, and is second with 140.6 passing yards allowed per contest (12th in DIII). The Spartans average 33:11 time of possession per game, and have a +8 turnover margin.
Senior quarterback Rob Cuda has completed 62.3% of his passes and thrown for 24 touchdowns with just five interceptions, and leads the PAC with 2,162 passing yards. He has also run for 243 yards and five touchdowns this season. 16 different Spartans have caught at least one pass this year, led by junior wide receiver Justin Phan (39 catches, 431 yards, 5 TDs) and senior wide receiver Zak Hurd (24 catches, 589 yards, 3 TDs), who is ninth in Division III with 24.54 yards per catch. Other leading targets for Cuda include senior running back Aaron Aguilar (15 catches, 198 yards, 5 TDs), and senior tight end Zech Medved (17 catches, 299 yards, 2 TD). The CWRU ground game has been anchored by senior Jacob Burke, who has carried the ball 157 times for 748 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Senior linebacker Justin McMahon leads the team with 47 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss and three fumble recoveries, and senior linebacker Andrew Banathy has added 46 tackles and leads the squad with 8.5 tackles for a loss and four sacks. Junior defensive end Cameron Brown has eight tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks and two quarterback hurries, while junior defensive tackle Ian Henderson has forced three fumbles, and senior defensive end Dan Techman has chipped in 43 tackles, including 5.5 for a loss and 2.5 sacks. Sophomore safety Patrick Crossey has a team-best four pass breakups and three interceptions and freshman defensive back Nick Kadlecik has two picks in the team's last two games.
Senior placekicker Ben Carniol has made four-of-six field goal tries and 45-of-47 extra point attempts. Freshman punter Quinn Saluan has punted 24 times for an average of 36.0 yards, including eight inside the 20 yard line. Phan has returned 13 punts for an average of 12.1 yards, and senior safety Cody Calhoun has 15 kick returns for an average of 23.2 yards.
SCOUTING THE TITANS
Westminster will enter Saturday's game with a 6-2 overall record, including a 3-1 road record and a 5-1 PAC mark. Both of the Titans' losses have come against ranked teams – a 20-14 setback to #12 Wittenberg on September 2nd and a 34-33 overtime loss at #15 Washington and Jefferson on October 21st. The team has averaged 34.5 points per game this season on 405.1 yards of offense per game (220.0 rushing and 185.1 passing). Defensively, Westminster has surrendered just 17.8 points per game on 287.1 yards, including 118.3 rushing and 185.1 passing. The Titans average 29:10 time of possession per game and have a +6 turnover margin.
Westminster quarterback Paul Columbo has completed 63.2% of his passes for 1,466 yards and 13 touchdowns with four interceptions, while rushing for an additional 381 yards and four scores. Dominique McKinley has run for a team-high 572 yards with six touchdowns, and Kimu Kim has totaled 199 yards on the ground with a team-leading seven rushing scores. Top receivers for the Titans include Connor Cox (20 receptions, 282 yards, 3 TDs), Bryson Paulinellie (17 receptions, 210 yards, 3 TDs) and Jametrius Bentley (11 receptions, 312 yards, 3 TDs).
Travis Lauster leads Westminster with 55 tackles this season and Miguel Luis has contributed 54 tackles with six pass breakups, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. CJ Armstrong has 44 tackles, including team-highs with 18.5 tackles for a loss (third in DIII) and 8.5 sacks, leading the PAC in each category, with Bobby Noble entering Saturday's game with 10.5 tackles for a loss and 7.0 sacks. Todd Jeter has recorded five of the team's eight interceptions this year.
Kicker John Cybak has made four-of-nine field goal tries and converted 34-of-35 extra point attempts, and Joseph Salmen has punted 31 times for an average of 37.7 yards, including nine inside the opponents' 20 yard line. Paulinellie is averaging 16.0 yards per punt return this year, the sixth-best mark in Division III, and Bryce Hill has returned nine kicks for an average of 21.2 yards.
CWRU Head Coach Greg Debeljak will be going for the 100th win of his career on Saturday against Westminster, and stands at 99-42 (.702) during his 14 years with the program. The 1988 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 86-25, (good for a .775 winning percentage), earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award five times (2007-09, 2011, and 2016).
Westminster is led by Head Coach Scott Benzel, a 1997 graduate of Mercyhurst. He has a career record of 27-13 during his four seasons with the team.
Saturday's game will be just the second meeting ever between the two teams, and the first in Cleveland. Last season, Case Western Reserve came out of New Wilmington, Pennsylvania with a come-from-behind 26-22 win over Westminster, which pushed the team's record to 9-0 at the time. The Spartans overcame a 19-point deficit in the second half and an 11-point hole in the fourth quarter alone to pick up the victory. In the second half of the game, Rob Cuda threw touchdown passes to Justin Phan and Brendan Lynch, converting the two-point conversion each time, and Jacob Burke gave the Spartans their first lead of the game with a one-yard touchdown run on fourth down with 4:25 to play. With 39 seconds remaining, Justin McMahon recovered a fumble on the Spartans' own two-yard line to clinch the victory.
Cuda finished the game with 257 passing yards and two touchdowns, and Burke added 78 yards on 17 carries in the game. Patrick Crossey recorded a career-high 13 tackles and a forced fumble in the win for CWRU. The Westminster offense was led by Dominique McKinley, who ran 133 yards in the game.
LAST TIME OUT
Case Western Reserve took a 21-0 lead in the first quarter and forced five turnovers, en route to a 45-28 win over Washington on Saturday. The Spartans outgained Washington 463-369 in the game, including 403 to 194 edge in yards through the first three quarters, while controlling the ball for just under 41 minutes. Jacob Burke led the offense with 167 rushing yards and two touchdowns, while Cody Calhoun paced the defensive effort with 10 tackles (six solo), a tackle for a loss, a fumble recovery and an interception.
Westminster claimed a 21-7 home win over Carnegie Mellon last Saturday. The Westminster defense held the Tartans to -7 rushing yards and 233 total yards in the game, while Paul Columbo led the team's offense, completing 15-of-19 passes for 202 yards and a touchdown, with another 83 yards and a score on the ground.
The Spartans' win over Washington on Saturday setup a de facto UAA Championship game against Carnegie Mellon when the two teams meet in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 11th for the 32nd-Annual Academic Bowl. CWRU and Carnegie Mellon are each 1-0 in UAA games this season, and shared the conference title (along with Washington) last year. CWRU has won the UAA Championship six times previously (1996, 2007-09, 2011 and 2016).
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
Jacob Burke was named the UAA Athlete of the Week for Offense, while Cody Calhoun claimed the league's defensive honor, following their performances against Washington (Mo.) last Saturday. It was the second UAA Athlete of the Week honor this season for each of the two players.
IN THE POLLS
The Spartans moved up one spot to 16th in the D3football.com Top-25, released on Sunday evening, matching the team's highest ranking of the year. The Spartans are one of two PAC teams ranked in the organization's latest poll, along with 15th-ranked Washington and Jefferson.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
The Spartans are 48-19 all-time in home games at DiSanto Field, which first opened during the 2005 season. Included in the overall record is an 18-5 mark at home since the start of the 2013 season, good for a .783 winning percentage. Case Western Reserve is 8-1 at home over the last two years, outscoring its last six opponents 357-168 at DiSanto Field.
AMONG THE UNDEFEATED
The Spartans are one of 13 undefeated teams left in Division III football, and one of two remaining in the PAC, along with Washington and Jefferson. Case Western Reserve is currently tied for first in the PAC standings with Washington and Jefferson, with both schools holding a 6-0 conference record.
CWRU has won 14-straight games played during the month of October, dating back to the 2015 season. The Spartans completed this October with a 4-0 record in the month, marking the third-straight year that the team has gone undefeated during the month.
SPREADING THE FIELD
Seventeen different Spartans have scored at least one of the team's 49 touchdowns this season, which including 24 passing touchdowns, 23 rushing and two defensive. Eleven different players have caught at least one touchdown pass this year, while five Spartans have ran for at least one score.
The Spartans' defense has forced 21 total turnovers this season, including 11 in its last two games (five against Washington and six against Geneva). CWRU is tied for the lead in the PAC and ranked 26th overall in Division III in turnover margin, while the team's 11 fumbles recovered are ninth among Division III teams.
Rob Cuda is just the second quarterback in CWRU history to break 7,000 yards for his career, joining former Spartan Dan Whalen (2006-09), who finished her career with 9,724 yards… He is also 135 rushing yards away from become the eighth player in school history with over 2,000 career yards, and ranks fourth in school history with 25 career rushing touchdowns… Jacob Burke is eighth in school history with 1,905 career rushing yards and is third in school history with 30 career rushing touchdowns, including 29 over the last two seasons… His 5.5 career yards per carry are the most among CWRU players in program history… Burke's 13 rushing touchdowns this year are the third-most in a single season in program history… Justin Phan caught three passes on Saturday to surpass 100 for his career (he now has 101)... Zech Medved is 83 yards away from 1,000 for his career… Ben Carniol is second among kickers and fifth overall in school history with 191 career points… Patrick Crossey reached the 100 tackle mark for his career against Washington on Saturday… Cody Calhoun surpassed 100 tackles for his career in the game against the Bears, and his 24.5 average on kick returns over his career is the best in program history… Senior linebacker Zach Lyon is six tackles from 100 for his career… Cannon's interception against Washington was the seventh of his career, moving him one away from entering the top-10 in program history in the category.