#19 CWRU Eyes Key PAC Saturday Showdown with #12 W&J

#19 CWRU Eyes Key PAC Saturday Showdown with #12 W&J

2018 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #5 – #19 CWRU (4-0, 3-0 PAC, 1-0 UAA) vs. Washington & Jefferson College (5-0, 4-0 PAC)
Saturday, October 6, 2018 · 1:00 p.m. · Washington, Pa. (Cameron Stadium)

Complete Game Notes (.PDF): https://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2018-19/files/fb_WJC_game_notes18.pdf
Live Stats: https://gopresidents.com/sidearmstats/football/summary
Video: http://pacathletics.org/watch/default.aspx?path=wj

In a game that will likely have a large impact in determining the 2018 Presidents' Athletic Conference Championship (and the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Playoffs associated with it), the 19th-ranked Case Western Reserve University Spartans will travel to Washington, Pennsylvania to face the 12th-ranked Washington and Jefferson College Presidents at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 6th.

In addition to being a matchup between the 2017 PAC Co-Champions, it will also feature a meeting of the only two remaining undefeated teams (both in PAC play and overall) in the league this season, and two of the 32 remaining undefeated teams across all of Division III in 2018.

The Spartans have opened the season with a 4-0 record, including a 3-0 mark in Presidents' Athletic Conference games and a 2-0 record in road contests.  CWRU is coming off a 35-14 win at Westminster College (previously undefeated in PAC play) last weekend.  Through four games this season, the Spartans have averaged 46.3 points per game on 514.2 yards of offense (187.9 rushing and 327.2 passing), while allowing 16.8 points per game on 275.2 total yards (71.0 rushing and 204.2 passing).

Freshman quarterback Drew Saxton has completed 70.5% of his passes (11th in DIII) for 1,183 yards (22nd in DIII) and 14 touchdowns (ninth in DIII) with just two interceptions.  Junior Sam Jenkins has been the team's leading rusher with 230 yards and two scores on the ground, while also catching five passes for 218 yards and two additional touchdowns.  Sophomore running back Zach Hall has added 207 rushing yards and three touchdowns.  Senior wide receiver Justin Phan has collected 33 passes for 361 yards this year, and sophomore wide receiver Colt Morgan has added 24 receptions for 287 yards and seven touchdowns (eighth among all DIII receivers this year).  Defensively, sophomore linebacker Travis Johnston and junior linebacker Isaac Withrow lead the team with 32 and 30 tackles, respectively, while junior safety and co-captain Patrick Crossey has 28 tackles and a team-high two interceptions.  Senior defensive end Cameron Brown has paced the squad with 3.5 sacks, six tackles for a loss, and three quarterback hurries in 2018.  Freshman kicker Robertson Albrecht has accumulated 29 points, making all 26 of his extra point attempts and his only field goal try.

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 106-43 career record, good for a .711 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.

Washington & Jefferson, ranked 12th in this week's D3football.com Top-25 and 10th in the American Football Coaches Association poll, will enter the weekend with a 5-0 overall record, including marks of 4-0 in PAC play and 3-0 in home games.  Last Saturday, the Presidents secured a 27-20 victory at Bethany College to keep their undefeated record intact, staving off a late comeback attempt by the Bison.  Washington and Jefferson is averaging 43.4 points per game on 510.8 yards of offense (185.4 rushing and 325.4 passing), while allowing 11.2 points per game on 325.8 yards (91.0 rushing and 243.8 passing).

Junior quarterback Jacob Adams is completing 65.7% of his passes for 1,451 yards and 17 touchdowns with four interceptions this year.  His main target has been sophomore receiver Andrew Wolf, who has caught 38 passes, including a Division III leading 12 touchdowns, and is second in DIII with 849 yards.  The team's leading rushers are junior Jordan West (510 yards, seven TDs) and sophomore EJ Thompson (315 yards, three TDs).  On defense, sophomore linebacker Max Garda leads the team with 39 tackles (five for a loss), and sophomore linebacker Sean Doran has added 38 stops.  Senior cornerback Zack Queen has intercepted a team-leading three passes, and junior defensive end Mike Williams has paced the squad with four sacks this year.

The Presidents are coached by Mike Sirianni, who is now in his 16th season with the team.  The 1994 graduate of Mount Union has recorded a mark of 144-31 during his time with the team.

Due to the previously unbalanced PAC schedule, the Spartans and the Presidents have not met on the football field since the 2015 season, a 35-28 win for CWRU in Cleveland.  In the victory, then-sophomore quarterback Rob Cuda threw for 278 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for 100 yards.  The game deciding score came with 5:03 left in the game, when Cuda completed a 39-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Erb to break a 28-28 tie.  Washington & Jefferson was ranked 15th at the time of the game.

The Spartans are 1-1 against Washington and Jefferson since rejoining the PAC as a football affiliate member in 2014, losing a 34-24 game in Washington during the Spartans return campaign to the league.  The two teams had previously played every year from the start of CWRU football in 1970 through 1985, with the Presidents holding a 10-8 edge in the all-time series.  Case Western Reserve is 5-4 all-time in road games against Washington & Jefferson.

The Spartans checked into this week's D3football.com Top-25 as the 19th-ranked team in Division III, falling one spot despite their victory over Westminster.  The Spartans also rose two spots to 16th in this week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top-25.

With Saturday's win over Westminster, for the first time in program history, the Spartans have a .500 all-time record.  The Spartans now stand at 232-232-4 since the first year of CWRU football (the federation of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve Academy teams) in 1970.  The Spartans opened their inaugural season in 1970 with a loss to Allegheny, finishing the year with a 2-5-1 record, and would not reach a .500 all-time record for 48 years (and 464 games), until last Saturday.

Case Western Reserve has won each of its last 14 regular season games, dating back to the start of the 2017 season.  The Spartans are 23-1 over their last 24 regular season games, and 30-4 (a .882 winning percentage) in the regular season since the start of the 2015 campaign.

The Spartans improved to 2-0 on the road this year with last Saturday's win, and have now won 12-straight regular season road games, dating back to the start of the 2016 season.

Since becoming a football affiliate member of the Presidents' Athletic Conference in 2014, the Spartans have gone 27-8 in conference play, good for a .771 winning percentage.  CWRU has won 11-straight PAC contests and 18 of their last 19 league games.

Patrick Crossey
was named both the UAA and PAC Defensive Player of the Week, after recording a career-high 15 tackles and returning an interception 55 yards from the Westminster one yard line.  Justin Phan was selected as the UAA Offensive Player of the Week, following his 10 reception, 128 yard, two touchdown performance against the Titans, and Drew Saxton was chosen as the PAC Rookie of the Week for the third time this year, after throwing for 330 yards and four touchdowns in the Spartans' win.

The Spartans have converted 54.0% (27-of-50) of their third down situations this season, the best rate in the PAC in 2018 and ninth among all Division III teams.  CWRU was 10-for-17 (58.8%) on third down conversions last week at Westminster.

Case Western Reserve has scored on all 20 of its trips into the red zone this season, including a perfect four-for-four on red zone chances against Westminster last Saturday, and is one of just 10 teams across Division III this year to score on each of its red zone attempts.  The Spartans have converted 19 touchdowns and one field goal on their 20 red zone trips in 2018, reaching the end zone nine times via the run and 10 via the pass.  CWRU has scored a touchdown in each of its last 15 times in the red zone, a stretch dating back to its opening game against Rochester.

The Spartans claimed the first PAC Championship in program history in 2017, sharing the conference title with Washington & Jefferson College after each squad went 8-0 in PAC games during the year.  CWRU also won the UAA Championship for the seventh time in program history, and claimed sole possession of the league title for the fifth time.  It marked the second-straight UAA Championship for Case Western Reserve.