#21 CWRU Returns to Cleveland for Homecoming against Saint Vincent

Photo credit: Martin Sentak
Photo credit: Martin Sentak

2018 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #6 – #21 CWRU (4-1, 3-1 PAC, 1-0 UAA) vs. Saint Vincent College (1-4, 1-3 PAC)
Saturday, October 13, 2018 · 1:00 p.m. · Cleveland, Ohio (DiSanto Field)

Complete Game Notes (.PDF): https://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2018-19/files/fb_SVC_game_notes18.pdf
Live Stats:
https://case.edu/livestream/athletics/  · Andrew Luftglass (play-by-play)

The Case Western Reserve University football team (4-1, 3-1 PAC, 1-0 UAA), ranked 21st in Division III, will return home to DiSanto Field to host its annual Homecoming Game against Presidents' Athletic Conference opponent Saint Vincent College (1-4, 1-3 PAC) on Saturday, October 13th at 1:00 p.m.

At halftime of Saturday's game, the Spartans will be honoring the seven inductees into the Spartan Club Hall of Fame - Esther Erb Atkins (CWRU '08, Cross Country & Track and Field), Aaron Johnston-Peck (CWRU '07, Cross Country & Track and Field), Santo Maimone IV, M.D. (CWRU '06, Football), Lauren Erickson (Preyss) (CWRU '07, Swimming), Pat Rodjom (CWRU '07,  Swimming), Heritage Inductee John Davin (CIT '60 Basketball & Golf) and Special Category Inductee M. Frank Rudy (CIT '50).  The seven will be officially inducted into the Spartan Club Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Saturday evening.

The CWRU football teams from 2007-09 will be receiving the University Award for Athletic Excellence at the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, and will be recognized on the field at the end of the first quarter of Saturday's game.  The 2007-09 Spartans experienced the greatest period of success in program history, winning all 30 of their regular season games during the three campaigns (as a part of a stretch of 38-consecutive regular season victories), while winning the UAA Championship and qualifying for the NCAA Championship each year.

At the halfway point in the season, the Spartans stand at 4-1, including a 3-1 mark in Presidents' Athletic Conference games (good for second place in the current standings) and a 2-0 record in home contests.  CWRU is coming off a 44-36 loss at 11th-ranked Washington & Jefferson College last Saturday, the team's first loss in its last 15 regular season games.  Through five games this season, the Spartans have averaged 44.2 points per game on 516.0 yards of offense (171.4 rushing and 344.6 passing), while allowing 22.2 points per game on 321.2 total yards (99.6 rushing and 221.6 passing).

Freshman quarterback Drew Saxton has completed 69.4% of his passes for 1,597 yards and 19 touchdowns with just four interceptions.  Junior Sam Jenkins has been the team's leading rusher with 263 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 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns.  At wide receiver, sophomore Colt Morgan leads the team with 37 receptions for 477 yards and 11 touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Justin Phan has collected 36 passes for 391 yards this year.  Defensively, sophomore safety Joshua Smith and junior linebacker Isaac Withrow lead the team with 37 and 35 tackles, respectively, while junior safety and co-captain Patrick Crossey has 34 tackles and a team-high two interceptions.  Senior defensive end Cameron Brown has paced the squad with 4.5 sacks, seven tackles for a loss, and three quarterback hurries in 2018.  Freshman kicker Robertson Albrecht has accumulated 33 points, making all 30 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 106-44 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.

Saint Vincent will enter the game with some momentum following its first win of the season on Saturday, a 35-13 victory at home over Thiel.  The Bearcats are 1-4 overall, including a 1-3 record in PAC games and a 0-3 mark on the road.  At the midway mark of its year, Saint Vincent has scored 23.4 points per game on 279.6 yards of offense (96.8 rushing and 182.8 passing), while allowing 31.0 points per game on 332.2 yards (190.4 rushing and 131.8 passing).

Sophomore quarterback Zavion Thompson has completed 50.5% of his passes for 773 yards and eight touchdowns with four interceptions this season.  Sophomore running back Mike Stasko has run for 343 yards and two touchdowns, while the team's leading receivers are senior Ariel Martinez (19 receptions, 257 yards, five touchdowns) and sophomore Keith Kalp (16 receptions, 211 yards, four touchdowns).  On the defensive side of the ball, sophomore Hauns White leads the Bearcats with 37 tackles, and junior defensive lineman Izaak Gray has 31 tackles, including 10 for a loss and 6.5 sacks.  Sophomore defensive back Jeremy Wodarek has paced the squad with two interceptions.

Saint Vincent is led by Head Coach Ron Dolciato, who is a 1990 graduate of John Carroll.  Now in his fifth season with the team, he has accumulated an all-time record of 16-29.

Saturday's game will be the sixth meeting all-time between the Spartans and the Bearcats, and the fifth since CWRU joined the PAC as a football affiliate member in 2014.  Case Western Reserve has won the last three games against Saint Vincent and is 4-1 all-time, including a perfect 3-0 mark in games between the two teams played in Cleveland.

Last year, the Spartans led 21-0 by halftime and 28-0 in the fourth quarter, en route to a 35-14 win over the Bearcats in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  Quarterback Rob Cuda completed 19-of-30 passes for 357 yards and four touchdowns, including a 32-yard touchdown pass to Luke DiFrancesco in the second quarter, and a 38-yard scoring throw to Joey Spitalli in the fourth quarter.

In recent years, homecoming has been a boost for the Spartans on the field, with the team winning the game in nine of the last 11 years, including each of the last four years.  The majority of the Spartans' recent wins on homecoming have been one-sided, with eight of the nine victories over the last 10 years being decided by at least two touchdowns.  These wins include a 63-14 win over Hiram on October 24, 2009 – marking the second-most points scored in a game in CWRU history – and a 33-3 win over Bethany last season.  The one close homecoming victory for CWRU in the last decade was a thrilling 24-23 win over Allegheny in 2010 that was decided by a blocked kick in overtime by former Spartan Jacob Adams. The overtime victory extended the Spartans' stretch of consecutive regular season wins to 35, a streak that eventually reached 38 games, the longest in the program's history.

The Spartans checked into this week's D3football.com Top-25 as the 21st-ranked team in Division III, falling two spots after their loss to #11 Washington and Jefferson.  The Spartans were also ranked 16th in last week's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top-25.

With the team's win over Westminster on September 29th, for the first time in program history, the Spartans reached a .500 all-time record, and could get back to .500 all-time with a win today.  The Spartans now stand at 232-233-4 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 the win over Westminster.

The Spartans are 51-19 all-time in home games at DiSanto Field, which first opened during the 2005 season.  Included in the overall record is a 21-5 mark at home since the start of the 2013 season, good for a .800 winning percentage.  Case Western Reserve is 11-1 at home over the last three years and has won seven-straight home contests, while outscoring its last eight opponents at DiSanto Field 499-208.

Since becoming a football affiliate member of the Presidents' Athletic Conference in 2014, the Spartans have gone 27-9 in conference play, good for a .750 winning percentage.  CWRU will enter Saturday's game as winners of 18 of their last 20 league games.

The Spartans lead all Division III teams this season with a 57.1% conversion rate on third downs this season, picking up first downs on 36 of their 63 attempts.  CWRU converted nine-of-13 (69.2%) of their third down attempts against Washington & Jefferson on Saturday.

Case Western Reserve has scored on all 23 of its trips into the red zone this season, including a perfect three-for-three on red zone chances against Washington & Jefferson last Saturday, and is one of just six teams across Division III this year to score on each of its red zone attempts.  The Spartans have converted 22 touchdowns and one field goal on their 23 red zone trips in 2018, reaching the end zone nine times via the run and 13 via the pass.  CWRU has scored a touchdown in each of its last 18 times in the red zone, a stretch dating back to its opening game against Rochester.

Sophomore wide receiver Colt Morgan has caught 11 touchdown passes this season, the third-most among all NCAA Division III wide receivers this year, and just two behind the national leader.  He is two touchdown receptions away from matching Bryan Erb's program record of 13 scoring catches, set during the 2015 season.  Morgan is also 13th among all Division III players in scoring with 13.2 points per game.  Morgan caught a career-high 13 passes for 190 yards and matched the program record with four receiving touchdowns against Washington and Jefferson, and was selected as the University Athletic Association Offensive Athlete of the Week for the first time in his career.

The Spartans are seventh among all Division III teams with 344.6 yards per game through the air.  The passing game has been anchored by freshman quarterback Drew Saxton, who is fifth among Division III players in passing touchdowns and 10th in completion percentage and passing yards.  He is 391 yards away from the CWRU record for most passing yards in a season by a freshman (currently held by Nick Leskiewicz with 1,988 in 1994).  His 414-yard game against Washington and Jefferson last weekend was the fifth 400 yard passing game in program history, the fourth-highest yardage total in a game all-time, and the second-best mark ever by a freshman (behind Leskiewicz's 431-yard effort against Denison in 1994).  Saxton is on pace for 3,194 passing yards this season, which would be the third-highest total ever in program history, while his 19 passing touchdowns are already the eighth-most ever by a Spartan player.