In a battle of teams undefeated in Presidents' Athletic Conference play entering the game, the 18th-ranked Case Western Reserve University Spartans came out triumphant, defeating Westminster College 35-14 in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania on Saturday night.
The win raises the Spartans' record to 4-0 overall, including 3-0 in PAC games, and sets up a battle for sole possession of first place in the conference next Saturday, when CWRU travels to 13th-ranked Washington and Jefferson College. Westminster dropped to 3-2 on the season, including a 3-1 mark in conference games.
Senior wide receiver Justin Phan caught 10 passes for a season-high 128 yards and two touchdowns, while freshman quarterback Drew Saxton notched his second 300-yard passing game of the year, completing 25-of-34 passes for 330 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. Sophomore wide receiver Colt Morgan added seven receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown, his seventh scoring catch through four games this year. Defensively, junior safety Patrick Crossey recorded a career-high 15 tackles (four solo) and a key interception in the fourth quarter, leading a defensive effort for the Spartans that kept Westminster out of the end zone in the second half of the game. Sophomore linebacker Travis Johnston (13 tackles) and sophomore safety Joshua Smith (12 tackles) each notched double-figure tackle totals as well.
Case Western Reserve started with the ball and wasted little time getting on the board. On the third play of scrimmage in the game, a third down and 11 from his own 19 yard line, Saxton avoided pressure in the pocket and launched a long pass across the field to junior running back Sam Jenkins for an 81-yard score, the longest play from scrimmage this season for the Spartans.
The score remained 7-0 until the second quarter, when Westminster quarterback Shamon Walker found receiver Jaevon Hardy in the end zone for a 42-yard touchdown pass, tying the score with 11:11 to play in the half. Later in the second quarter, Westminster took its first lead of the game with a 12 play, 59 yard drive, capped off by a one-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown by Walker, giving the Titans a 14-7 lead with 3:26 remaining in the half.
Needing a quick response before halftime, the Spartans launched downfield with a pair of runs by Saxton, followed by a 29-yard pass to Phan, giving the Spartans a first down on the Titans' 25 yard line. Three plays later, Saxton and Phan hooked up again, this time on an 18-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 14-14 with 1:01 to play.
After forcing a three-and-out on the Titans' first drive of the second half, the Spartans went on their first extended drive of the game. CWRU drove 81 yards on 10 plays over four and a half minutes, scoring on Phan's second touchdown catch of the game, another 18-yard grab, to go back ahead 21-14 with 9:22 to play in the third quarter. The Spartans added a touchdown with 5:25 remaining in the fourth quarter on a three-yard pass from Saxton to Morgan to take a 28-14 advantage, and an interception in the red zone by Crossey with just over two minutes left all but locked up the win for the Spartans. The Spartans turned the interception into a touchdown drive, scoring on an 18-yard run by sophomore Zach Hall, and a late interception by sophomore linebacker Michael Amadio (the first of his career) robbed the Titans of a last chance to add on score.
The win was the 14th-consecutive regular season victory for the Spartans, and their 23 win in their last 24 regular season contests.
The Spartans outgained the Titans 460-304 in the game, including a 330-176 edge through the air. CWRU also held a 130-128 edge in rushing yards in the game.
The Spartans will be tested again next weekend, when the team travels to Washington, Pennsylvania for a matchup against 13th-ranked Washington and Jefferson (5-0, 4-0 PAC) on Saturday, October 6th at 1:00 p.m.