The 18th-ranked Case Western Reserve University football team opened with 35 unanswered points and never looked back on Saturday night, defeating Thiel College 63-20 at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio.
The win was the 13th-consecutive regular season victory for CWRU, which improved to 3-0 on the year with the win, including a 2-0 record in Presidents' Athletic Conference play. Thiel fell to 0-4 for the season with a 0-3 record in the PAC.
The Spartans dominated both sides of the ball on Saturday night, outgaining the Tomcats 532-162. Freshman quarterback Drew Saxton turned in his second-straight five touchdown game (without taking a snap in the fourth quarter in either game), completing 19-of-26 passes for 258 yards. Senior wide receiver Luke DiFrancesco caught a career-high three touchdown passes in the game, finishing with four receptions and 69 yards. Sophomore wide receiver Colt Morgan led the squad with seven receptions and 72 yards, including his sixth touchdown catch through three games this year.
The Spartans' offense wasted little time getting started on Saturday night, driving nine plays for 64 yards on their first drive of the game to take a 7-0 lead. Saxton propelled the team on the opening drive of the game, completing four-of-six passes, including a 15-yard touchdown pass to DiFrancesco.
The CWRU defense forced a Thiel fumble on the Tomcats' first drive of the game, resulting in another touchdown after junior running back Sam Jenkins capped off a 32-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Later in the first quarter, the Spartans needed just four plays and 1:52 to drive yards downfield, extending the lead to 21-0 on the second touchdown pass of the game from Saxton to DiFrancesco, this time for a 34-yard score.
Freshman cornerback Colin Schuster started off the second quarter with the first interception of his career, leading to a 13-yard pass from Saxton to Morgan in the end zone, extending the lead to 28-0. Saxton's fourth touchdown pass of the game, this time on a 28-yard slant to senior wide receiver Joey Spitalli, pushed CWRU ahead 35-0 with 6:24 to play in the first half.
The CWRU defense did not allow the Thiel offense to pick up a first down until late in the second quarter (Thiel converted one first down in the first quarter on a fake punt), while holding Thiel to just 55 yards in the opening half. A late TD pass by the Tomcats after a CWRU fumble put Thiel on the board, cutting the Spartans' lead to 35-7 at halftime.
The Spartans struck first in the second half, extending their lead to 42-7 on sophomore Zach Hall's seven yard touchdown run. Thiel cut the Spartans' lead back to 29 points after an 87 yard kick return for a touchdown by Trou Johnson, but CWRU answered with a touchdown on the next drive, as Saxton hooked up with DiFrancesco for the third time of the evening, this time on a 15 yard pass with 6:50 to play in the third quarter. Freshman running back Nate Stefonsky added to the lead in the fourth quarter, following up a 41-yard run with a one-yard score with 9:40 to play, the first touchdown of his career. He added his second career rushing touchdown later in the quarter, extending CWRU's lead to 63-20 with 4:15 remaining in the game.
CWRU's defense Thiel to -10 yards rushing in the game, and totaled 14 tackles for a loss, with seven sacks. Senior defensive tackle Ian Henderson collected 2.5 sacks in the game, with sophomore linebacker Brian Victor and Schuster leading the team with six tackles apiece.
Through three games this season, Saxton has completed 69.5% of his passes for 853 yards and 10 touchdowns, with just one interception.
Next up for the Spartans will be a two-game road swing that should prove to be key for their season, with games at the two other teams undefeated in PAC play in Westminster College (3-1, 3-0 PAC) and Washington & Jefferson College (4-0, 3-0 PAC). Case Western Reserve will begin the stretch next Saturday, September 29 at Westminster in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, with kickoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m.