2017 Case Western Reserve University Football
NCAA Division III Playoffs – Second Round
#16 CWRU (11-0, 8-0 PAC, 2-0 UAA) at #2 University of Mount Union (11-0, 9-0 OAC)
Saturday, November 25, 2017 · 12:00 p.m. · Alliance, Ohio (Mount Union Stadium)
Live Stats: http://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2017-18/boxscores/20171125_k2tq.xml
Click here for the complete game notes in .pdf format
Ticket Information: http://athletics.mountunion.edu/sports/fball/17tickets-NCAAround2
Case Western Reserve University (11-0, 8-0 PAC, 2-0 UAA), ranked 16th in Division III, will be making its second-ever appearance in the second round of the NCAA Division III Championships, when the team travels to Alliance, Ohio to take on the perennial DIII football power and second-ranked University of Mount Union (11-0, 9-0 OAC) on Saturday, November 25th at 12:00 p.m.
PAC & UAA CHAMPIONS
Case Western Reserve University went 8-0 in the Presidents' Athletic Conference and won its first league title since joining the conference as a football affiliate member prior to the start of the 2014 season. The Spartans split the PAC Championship with 14th-ranked Washington & Jefferson, which also claimed the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs based on the strength of conference victories tiebreaker (the Spartans earned one of the at-large bids to the playoffs). Case Western Reserve also claimed its second-straight UAA Championship and seventh overall in program history, going 2-0 in league play.
SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Case Western Reserve will enter Saturday's game with an 11-0 overall mark, including a 6-0 road record. The Spartans have averaged 42.1 points per game (10th in DIII) on 445.5 yards of offense (42nd in DIII), including 251.2 passing yards (61st in DIII) and 194.4 rushing yards per game (63rd in DIII). The defense is 30th in Division III with just 15.4 points allowed, 23rd with 274.5 total yards allowed, 49th with 112.6 rushing yards per game, and 27th with 161.8 passing yards allowed per contest. The Spartans average 32:27 time of possession per game, and have a +10 turnover margin.
Senior quarterback Rob Cuda has completed 57.8% of his passes and thrown for 28 touchdowns with just five interceptions, and 2,585 passing yards. He has also run for 425 yards and six touchdowns this season. 17 different Spartans have caught at least one pass this year, led by junior wide receiver Justin Phan (50 catches, 604 yards, 7 TDs) and senior wide receiver Zak Hurd (25 catches, 606 yards, 4 TDs), who is eighth in Division III with 24.24 yards per catch. Other leading targets for Cuda include senior running back Aaron Aguilar (16 catches, 210 yards, 5 TDs), junior wide receiver Joey Spitalli (18 receptions, 212 yards, 1 TD), and senior tight end Zech Medved (18 catches, 324 yards, 2 TDs). The CWRU ground game has been anchored by senior Jacob Burke, who has carried the ball 212 times for 1,079 yards and 17 touchdowns (12th in Division III).
Senior linebacker Justin McMahon leads the team with 80 tackles (35 solo), including 8.5 for a loss and three fumble recoveries, and senior linebacker Andrew Banathy has added 69 tackles (39 solo) with a team-leading 11.0 for a loss and four sacks. Junior defensive end Cameron Brown has 10 tackles for a loss, including a team-best 4.5 sacks and three quarterback hurries, while junior defensive tackle Ian Henderson has forced three fumbles, and senior defensive end Dan Techman has chipped in 52 tackles, including eight for a loss and 3.5 sacks. Sophomore safety Patrick Crossey has a team-best four pass breakups and four interceptions, while freshman defensive back Nick Kadlecik and senior cornerback Adrian Cannon have each added two interceptions apiece.
Senior placekicker Ben Carniol has made eight-of-11 field goal tries and 59-of-61 extra point attempts. Freshman punter Quinn Saluan has punted 36 times for an average of 36.5 yards, including 13 inside the 20 yard line. Phan has returned 18 punts for an average of 11.8 yards, and senior safety Cody Calhoun has 23 kick returns for an average of 22.7 yards.
SCOUTING THE PURPLE RAIDERS
Mount Union is a perfect 11-0 on the season, including a 7-0 mark in home games during the year. The squad earned a berth to the NCAA Playoffs by claiming the Ohio Athletic Conference's automatic bid, after winning the conference championship for the 28th time in the program's history. The Purple Raiders lead all Division III teams with 53.5 points per game and are 12th in the country with 486.1 yards per contest, including 242.8 passing yards (77th in DIII) and 243.3 rushing yards (21st in DIII) per game. Defensively, the squad has yielded the third-fewest points (9.1) and yards (216.1) per game in the country to their opponents, allowing just 74.8 rushing yards (11th in DIII) and 141.3 passing yards (13th in DIII). Mount Union averages a time of possession of 29:59, and has a +10 turnover margin for the campaign.
Sophomore quarterback D'Angelo Fulford has completed 70.7% of his passes for 2,396 yards and 44 touchdowns with just a pair of interceptions on the year, and has rushed for another 370 yards and six touchdowns. Leading the team's rushing attack are junior Jawanza Evans-Morris (852 yards, 8 TDs) and Josh Petruccelli (768 yards, 3 TDs). Top receiving targets include sophomore Justin Hill (35 receptions, 759 yards, 14 TDs), senior Jared Ruth (28 receptions, 573 yards, 11 TDs) and senior Braeden Friss (32 receptions, 517 yards, 9 TDs).
On defense, the team's top tackler is senior linebacker Charlie Dear with 71 (29 solo) including nine for a loss. Senior defensive lineman Elijah Berry leads the squad with 13 tackles for a loss, including 6.5 sacks, while senior defensive lineman Michael Vidal has added 9.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks. Both junior safety Trevor Cox and junior cornerback Louis Berry have four interceptions to pace the Purple Raiders in 2017.
Senior kicker Alex Louthan has made 14-of-17 field goals and 73-of-74 extra point attempts this season, and junior Adam Snyder has punted 32 times for an average of 37.0 yards. Cox has returned 19 punts for an average of 11.0 yards, while Richard Morris has 10 kick returns for an average of 26.7 yards.
CWRU Head Coach Greg Debeljak, named the 2017 PAC Coach of the Year last week, will enter Saturday's game with an overall record of 102-42 (.708) during his 14-year career with the Spartans. The 1988 graduate of John Carroll University has led Case Western Reserve to six UAA Championships in the last 11 years, notching four undefeated regular seasons and four NCAA playoff appearances (2007-09, 2017). Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Case Western Reserve has posted an overall record of 89-25, (good for a .781 winning percentage), earning Debeljak and his assistants the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award six times (2007-09, 2011, 2016 and 2017) . He claimed the 100th win over his career earlier this season, with a 41-10 victory over Westminster on November 4.
Mount Union is led by head coach Vince Kehres, who has a 66-4 record during his five seasons at the team's helm, and was named the D3football.com National Coach of the Year in 2015. He is the son of Mount Union's legendary Head Coach Larry Kehres, and has been a part of 11 National Championship seasons with the team – two as a player and nine as a coach.
Despite their close proximity to each other, Saturday's game will be the first played between the two schools since the federation of Case Western Reserve in 1970.
LAST TIME OUT
Case Western Reserve recorded its first shutout of the campaign in a 28-0 win over 11th-ranked Illinois Wesleyan in the first round of the NCAA Division III Championships last Saturday in Bloomington, Illinois. Battling poor weather throughout the game, including heavy snow at times, Aaron Aguilar led the way with a career high 136 rushing yards and three touchdowns against the fourth-ranked rushing defense in Division III. Senior running back Myles Anthony added a late rushing touchdown, while defensively, Patrick Crossey and Justin McMahon each had a team-leading eight tackles, and senior linebacker Chanan Demery had three tackles for a loss, including a sack.
Mount Union's defense also tallied a shutout in their first round matchup in a 21-0 win over Washington and Lee. D'Angelo Fulford threw for a pair of touchdowns, including a 60-yard pass to Jared Ruth, and Josh Petruccelli carried the ball 19 times for 118 yards in the win. Danny Robinson had a team-leading 14 tackles in the game.
17 NAMED TO ALL-PAC TEAMS
Seventeen members of the Case Western Reserve football team received All-PAC honors for the 2017 season. Rob Cuda was named the Conference's Most Valuable Offensive Player, and was joined on the all-conference first team by senior center Gage Blair, Jacob Burke, Cameron Brown and Justin McMahon. Earning second team honors were senior guard Ryan DeMarinis, Justin Phan, Ian Henderson, Andrew Banathy, Cody Calhoun and Ben Carniol. Honorable mentions to the All-PAC squads included Aaron Aguilar, Zak Hurd, Dan Techman, senior linebacker Zach Lyon, Patrick Crossey and Adrian Cannon.
Rob Cuda was also named the UAA Offensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season, and was joined on the All-UAA First Team by Aaron Aguilar, junior tackle Steven Bachie, Gage Blair, Jacob Burke, Ryan DeMarinis, Zech Medved, Justin Phan, Cameron Brown, Cody Calhoun, Ian Henderson, Zach Lyon, Justin McMahon and Ben Carniol. Both Zak Hurd and senior linebacker Alex Habeeb were named honorable mentions to the All-UAA team.
UAA WEEKLY HONORS
The Spartans swept last week's UAA Player of the Week awards, with Aaron Aguilar earning offensive honors, Cody Calhoun claiming the defensive award, and Justin Phan securing special teams recognition. It was the first UAA Athlete of the Week honor this season for Aguilar, while Calhoun and Phan each secured the award for the third time this year.
IN THE POLLS
The Spartans ended the regular season as the 16th-ranked team in Division III, according to both the D3football.com and the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) polls. CWRU highest ranking of the year came after the team's week-10 win over Westminster, when the squad checked in at 14th in the D3football.com top-25.
UNDEFEATED REGULAR SEASON
Case Western Reserve secured the fifth undefeated regular season in the program's history in 2017, along with 1984, 2007, 2008 and 2009. The Spartans are one of 10 undefeated teams left in Division III football, and one of two in the PAC this season, along with Washington and Jefferson.
The Spartans have won all six of their road games in 2017, and have won 11-straight road contests dating back to last year. CWRU has outscored its opponents 455-178 in the 11 games during the streak (41.4 to 16.2 per game), including a 246-97 margin this season.
CWRU has held its opponent scoreless through an entire half eight times through 11 games this season. The Spartans' defense shutout Saint Vincent in the first half of their matchup, and held Chicago, Grove City, Bethany, Geneva and Westminster without a point in the second half of their games, in addition to their shutout of Illinois Wesleyan last weekend. CWRU has also allowed one or fewer touchdowns in a game five times in 2017.
The Spartans have scored at least 28 points in all 11 games this season. CWRU has registered 40 or more points in five of their last six games, and seven times overall in 2017. The Spartans' 463 total points this season are the second-most in a single campaign in program history, behind only the 479 scored by the 2009 squad.
Case Western Reserve is 2-3 all-time in postseason games, including last Saturday's win, which was the program's first in the playoffs since a 21-20 victory over Widener on November 17, 2007. The game against Mount Union will be just the second postseason road game in CWRU history. Mount Union is 95-16 all-time in the NCAA Championships, with 12 National Titles.
Rob Cuda's 2,585 passing yards this season are the fourth-most in a year in program history, and just 46 behind his career high of 2,631 yards, set during the 2015 campaign… His 28 passing touchdowns match a career high and rank as the third most in CWRU history… Jacob Burke's 17 rushing touchdowns ranks as the second-most in program history, and are two behind Brandon McDowell's record of 19 (2001)… Burke's 1,079 rushing yards are the fourth-most in a season in CWRU history, and he became just the second CWRU running back ever with two 1,000-yard seasons, and the first to reach the milestone in back-to-back years… Zak Hurd's 24.24 yards per reception is on pace for a program record… Justin Phan's 11.8 yards per punt return this year rank fifth in school history… Ben Carniol's 83 points are the third-most by a kicker in program history, and two behind the program record of 85, set by Sam Coffey in 2007… His 59 made extra points set a new school record, surpassing the previous mark of 57 set by Sam Coffey in 2009.
Rob Cuda is second in school history with 7,638 passing yards and 76 touchdowns over his career… Jacob Burke is sixth in program history with 2,236 rushing yards, while Cuda ranks eighth with 2,014 yards… Burke's 34 rushing touchdowns are the second-most ever by a Spartan, and five behind Brandon McDowell's record of 39… Cody Calhoun is third in program history in career kick return average (24.1)… Ben Carniol is second all-time among kickers and third overall with 217 career points … Zech Medved is 58 receiving yards shy of 1,000 for his career.