#19 Spartans Return to Action at Grove City on Saturday

#19 Spartans Return to Action at Grove City on Saturday

2018 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #2 – #19 CWRU (1-0, 0-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) vs. Grove City College (1-1, 0-1 PAC)
Saturday, September 15, 2018 · 7:00 p.m. · Grove City, Pa. (Robert E. Thorn Field)

Live Stats: http://www2.gcc.edu/sports/Football/xlive.htm
Video: https://livestream.com/accounts/13431056/events/8348164

Click here for the complete game notes in .pdf format

The 19th-ranked Case Western Reserve University football team will return to action after its bye week, opening Presidents' Athletic Conference play at Grove City College in Grove City, Pennsylvania on Saturday at 7:00 p.m.

Case Western Reserve has opened the 2018 season with a 1-0 record, claiming a 38-10 win over Rochester at home to open the campaign on September 1.  The Spartans finished the game with 541 total yards of offense, including 220 rushing yards and 321 passing yards, while allowing 248 yards (40 rushing and 208 passing).  Case Western Reserve forced a turnover in the game, and controlled possession for over 37 minutes.

Both freshman Drew Saxton and junior Ryan Coolidge saw time at quarterback.  Saxton completed 23-of-35 passes for 234 yards and rushing for 38 yards and a score, while Coolidge completed nine-of-11 passes for 87 yards and a touchdown, and ran for an additional 50 yards and two touchdowns.  Junior running back Sam Jenkins (59 yards, one TD) and senior wide receiver Justin Phan (14 rec., 116 yards) also had a major impact on the team's offense.  Defensively, sophomore linebacker Travis Johnston led the team with seven tackles, and junior safety Patrick Crossey registered a career-high three pass breakups.

Grove City was picked to finish fifth in the conference after winning two of its final three games in 2017, and went on to claim a season-opening 38-23 win at home over Juniata.  However, the Wolverines suffered a setback last weekend, losing 27-7 at Bethany in a rain-soaked affair, turning the ball over six times in the contest.  Over their first two games, the Wolverines have averaged 22.5 points on 286.5 yards of offense, including 166.0 rushing yards and 120.5 passing yards.  The Grove City defense has yielded 25.0 points per game on 360.0 yards (179.0 rushing and 181.0 passing).

Junior running back Wesley Schools has led the team with 272 yards and four touchdowns, with junior quarterback Randall Labrie has completed 56.4% of his passes for 241 yards, including 12 receptions and 162 yards for sophomore wide receiver Cody Gustafson.  On the defensive side, senior linebacker Ethan Conto leads the team with 18 tackles, including a pair for a loss, and senior safety Daniel Jackson has a pair of interceptions.

Saturday's game will mark the fourth all-time meeting between the two teams, with the Spartans holding a 2-1 advantage in the all-time series, including a 1-1 mark in games played at Grove City.  After CWRU suffered a 40-33 loss in its first-ever contest against the Wolverines in 2006, the Spartans have won the matchup each of the last two years, including a 55-0 win in 2016 on the road, and a 42-10 victory at home last year.

In last year's game, CWRU finished with 553 total yards of offense, led by running back Jacob Burke, who rushed for 104 yards and four touchdowns, and wide receiver Giuseppe Orsini, who caught a pair of touchdown passes for 69 yards.  Defensively, the Spartans held the Wolverines to 238 total yards, with defensive tackle Ian Henderson totaling eight tackles and a sack, and defensive end Cameron Brown contributing eight tackles and half a sack.

CWRU is led by Head Coach Greg Debeljak, a 1988 graduate of John Carroll University, who in his 15th season at the team's helm.  He currently holds a 103-43 career record, good for a .705 winning percentage, and has led the team to six UAA Championships, four NCAA playoff appearances, and its first PAC Championship in 2017.  Debeljak was named the PAC Coach of the Year last season, while also securing the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year Award for the sixth time in 2017.

The Wolverines are under the leadership of third year Head Coach Andrew DiDonato.  A 2010 graduate of Grove City, DiDonato returned to take the reins of his alma mater prior to the start of the 2016 season, and has gone 5-17 during his three seasons with the squad.

Senior Justin Phan caught 14 passes for 116 yards in the Spartans' season-opening win over Rochester on September 1st, marking the third time in his career he has caught 10 or more passes in a game, and his fourth career 100-yard game.  The 14 receptions were just one shy of matching his own school single-game record, and is currently tied for the sixth-most in a game by a Division III receiver this season.  Phan was later selected as the University Athletic Association Football Athlete of the Week for Offense, marking the seventh time over his career he has garnered the honor.

In addition to Phan's weekly award, junior safety Patrick Crossey was selected as the UAA Defensive Athlete of the Week, while freshman quarterback Drew Saxton was named the PAC Rookie of the Week, following the team's victory over Rochester.  Crossey recorded six tackles, five solo, and notched a career-high three pass breakups, while helping limit Rochester to just 248 total yards of offense, including just 40 on the ground, and shut out the Yellowjackets over the second half of the game.  Playing in the first game of his collegiate career, Saxton started and completed 23-of-35 passes for 234 yards, while rushing an additional four times for 38 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

The Spartans have gone 10-1 following bye weeks over the last 11 seasons, including the win over Grove City last year.  Case Western Reserve has outscored its last three post-bye week opponents by a combined score of 146-24.

Case Western Reserve is 28-3 in its last 31 night games dating back to the 2006 season, including a 10-0 record in night games over the last four seasons.  Saturday's game will be the second of five night games this season for the Spartans, including four-straight to start the season.

Case Western Reserve scored on all six of its trips into the red zone against Rochester, scoring five touchdowns and kicking one field goal from inside its opponents' 20-yard line.