#18 CWRU Football Returns Home to Host Thiel on Saturday

#18 CWRU Football Returns Home to Host Thiel on Saturday

2018 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #3 – #18 CWRU (2-0, 1-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) vs. Thiel College (0-3, 0-1 PAC)
Saturday, September 22, 2018 · 7:00 p.m. · Cleveland, Ohio (DiSanto Field)

Complete Game Notes (.PDF): https://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2018-19/files/fb_THI_game_notes18.pdf
Live Stats: https://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2018-19/boxscores/20180922_lg62.xml
Video: https://case.edu/livestream/athletics/
Andrew Luftglass (Play-by-play)

The Case Western Reserve University football team, ranked 18th in Division III, will look to continue its strong start to the season Saturday night, when the Spartans play host to Thiel College for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Spartans have opened the season with a 2-0 record, including a 1-0 mark in Presidents' Athletic Conference games and a 1-0 record in home contests.  CWRU is coming off a 49-23 win at Grove City College last weekend, during which the team totaled 524 yards of offense and held the Wolverines to 387 yards.  Through two games this season, the Spartans have 43.5 points per game on 532.5 yards of offense (185.5 rushing and 347.0 passing) per contest, while allowing 17.5 points per game on 317.5 total yards (83.0 rushing and 234.5 passing).

Freshman quarterback Drew Saxton has completed 68.1% of his passes for 595 yards and five touchdowns with just one interception.  Junior Sam Jenkins has been the team's leading rusher with 115 yards and a score on the ground, while also catching three passes for 134 yards and an additional touchdown.  Senior wide receiver Justin Phan has collected 19 passes for 164 yards this year, and sophomore wide receiver Colt Morgan has added 10 receptions for 145 yards and five touchdowns.  Defensively, junior linebacker Isaac Withrow leads the team with 16 tackles, senior defensive end Cameron Brown has 11 tackles, including 2.5 for a loss, one sack, and two quarterback hurries, and junior safety Patrick Crossey has notched 13 tackles, one interception and three pass breakups.

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 104-43 career record, good for a .707 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.

Thiel will enter Saturday's game with a 0-3 record on the year, including a 0-2 mark both on the road and in PAC games.  The Tomcats are coming off a 27-14 setback in their home opener against Geneva last Saturday, despite a 211-yard, two-touchdown performance from junior quarterback Marko Bakovic in the game.  The team has scored 10.0 points per game this season on 188.0 yards of offense (7.0 rushing and 181.0 passing), while allowing 42.0 points per game on 483.7 total yards (277.0 rushing and 206.7 passing).

Bakovic has taken every snap at quarterback this season for the Tomcats, completing 48.6% of his passes for 543 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions.  Senior Nick Barca leads the team with 96 rushing yards and freshman wide receiver Fred Davis has caught six passes for 111 yards and a touchdown.  Linebacker Dusty Maines leads the team with 36 tackles, including a sack, and senior defensive end Cody Wagner has added 26 tackles through the first three games.

The Tomcats are led by third year Head Coach Dan Blume, who is a 2006 graduate of Mount Union.  During his three seasons at Thiel, Blume has recorded a mark of 5-17.

The series between CWRU and Thiel includes 17 games and dates back to 1970, the first year of the federation of Case and Western Reserve.  Thiel currently leads the overall series 9-8, but the Spartans have won each of the last six meetings between the two teams, including all four since rejoining the PAC as a football affiliate member in 2014.  CWRU is 5-4 all-time against the Tomcats in home games.

Last year, the Spartans' offense exploded in a 63-28 win over the Tomcats in Greenville, Pennsylvania, outgaining Thiel 604-197  in the game, and matching program records for points scored in a quarter (28 in the second) and a half (49 in the first).  Former CWRU quarterback Rob Cuda completed 17-of-22 passes for 343 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for a sixth score, all without taking a snap in the second half of the game.

The Spartans were ranked 18th in the D3footbal.com Week 3 Top-25, the team's highest ranking of the season.  After starting the year ranked 23rd in the preseason poll, CWRU moved up one spot to 22nd in the week one top-25, and to 19th in the week two rankings.  The Spartans also debuted at 18th in the first AFCA poll of the year, released on Monday.

Case Western Reserve has won each of its last 12 regular season games, dating back to the start of the 2017 season.  The Spartans are 21-1 over their last 22 regular season games, and 28-4 (a .875 winning percentage) since the start of the 2015 campaign.

Since becoming a football affiliate member of the Presidents' Athletic Conference in 2014, the Spartans have gone 25-8 in conference play, good for a .758 winning percentage.  CWRU has won nine-straight PAC contests and 16 of their last 17 league games.

The Spartans are 50-19 all-time in home games at DiSanto Field, which first opened during the 2005 season.  Included in the overall record is a 20-5 mark at home since the start of the 2013 season, good for a .800 winning percentage.  Case Western Reserve is 10-1 at home over the last three years and has won six-straight home contests, while outscoring its last eight opponents at DiSanto Field 436-188.

Case Western Reserve is 29-3 in its last 32 night games dating back to the 2006 season, including an 11-0 record in night games over the last four seasons.  Saturday's game will be the third of five night games this season for the Spartans, including four-straight to start the season.

Case Western Reserve scored on all nine of its trips into the red zone this season, including a perfect three-for-three on red zone chances against Grove City last Saturday.  The Spartans have converted eight touchdowns and one field goal on their nine red zone trips in 2018, scoring four via the run and four via the pass.

Drew Saxton
was named both the PAC and UAA Offensive Player of the Week, after completing 24-of-34 passes against Grove City for 361 yards and five touchdowns.  The 361 passing yards marked the 11th-most in a single game in program history, and the most by a Spartan since Joey Baum threw for 363 yards against Oberlin on October 9, 2010.   The yardage total also marked second-most ever in a game by a CWRU freshman quarterback, behind only Nick Leskiewicz's 431 passing yards against Denison on November 5, 1994.  In addition, Saxton's five passing touchdowns were one short of Dan Whalen's single-game record, set against Oberlin in 2009.  These were the first conference player of the week honors for Saxton, who was named the PAC Rookie of the Week on September 4th.

Colt Morgan
matched a program record last Saturday with four touchdown catches in the team's win over Grove City.  He equaled the mark previously set by former Spartan Jason Cellura against Kalamazoo during the 2002 campaign.  Morgan's five touchdown catches this season rank eighth among Division III players, while his four-touchdown game is one of just four recorded in Division III this year.