The 23rd-ranked Case Western Reserve University football team opened its 2018 season with a 38-10 win over the University of Rochester in a University Athletic Association contest at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday night.
After allowing an early touchdown, the Spartans' defense held the Yellowjackets to just a field goal over the final 54 minutes of the game, while limiting Rochester to 248 total yards of offense. Meanwhile, the Case Western Reserve offense racked up 541 yards in the game, including 220 on the ground and 321 through the air. The Spartans dominated time of possession in the game, controlling the ball for over 37 minutes.
Case Western Reserve was led at quarterback by the duo of freshman Drew Saxton and junior Ryan Coolidge. Saxton, making his collegiate debut, completed 23-of-35 passes for 234 yards, while running for another 42 and a score. Coolidge completed nine-of-11 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, while running for 50 yards and two more scores.
Senior wide receiver Justin Phan was the beneficiary of the success of the two quarterbacks, catching 14 passes (one shy of his own single-game school record) for 116 yards. Graduate student wide receiver Giuseppe Orsini added six receptions for 63 yards, and sophomore wide receiver Colt Morgan caught four passes for 69 yards, including an eight-yard score in the fourth quarter. Junior running back Sam Jenkins led the team on the ground with 59 yards, including a touchdown.
CWRU fell behind early on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Rochester quarterback Matt Gallagher to wide receiver Connor Byrne with 9:34 remaining in the first quarter. However, the Case Western Reserve defense would keep the Yellowjackets out of the end zone for the remainder of the game, and the Spartans evened the score with 2:40 remaining in the quarter on a four-yard run by Jenkins, capping off an eight-play, 56-yard drive. Case Western Reserve then took the lead on their first drive of the second quarter, driving 75 yards on 11 plays and scoring a touchdown on a nine-yard run by Coolidge.
Case Western Reserve added to its lead with 6:18 remaining in the half on a 17-yard scoring run by Saxton, with the 10-play 63-yard scoring drive putting the Spartans ahead 21-7. Rochester pulled closer on a 23-yard field goal with 2:41 to play, but the Spartans would drive nearly the length of the field in the closing minutes of the opening half, with Coolidge capping off a 91-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run, giving CWRU a 28-10 advantage at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Spartans added on a 22-yard field goal by Robertson Albrecht with 13:45 to play in the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 31-10, and Morgan capped off the scoring with his touchdown catch from Coolidge with 9:35 remaining in the game.
A late interception by junior cornerback Luke Bedell helped CWRU lock up the victory, putting a bow on a strong effort by the Spartans' defense, which allowed just 40 rushing yards to the Yellowjackets.
CWRU improved to 24-23-1 all-time in season-opening games, including wins in 15 of their last 16 season openers. It also marked the program's 50th win all time at DiSanto Field (which opened in 2005) and their sixth-consecutive home victory.
The Spartans will have their bye week next Saturday, before returning to action on Saturday, September 15th at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania.