No. 20 Spartans Return Home to Host Waynesburg

No. 20 Spartans Return Home to Host Waynesburg

2018 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #9 – #20 CWRU (7-1, 6-1 PAC, 1-0 UAA) vs. Waynesburg University (4-4, 4-3 PAC)
Saturday, November 3, 2018 · 2:00 p.m. · Cleveland, Ohio (DiSanto Field)

Complete Game Notes (.PDF):
Live Stats:
Video:  · Andrew Luftglass (Play-by-play)

Case Western Reserve University (7-1, 6-1 PAC, 1-0 UAA), ranked 20th in Division III, will return home to DiSanto Field to begin a regular-season ending two-game home stand on Saturday, November 3rd against Waynesburg University (4-4, 4-3 PAC).  Kickoff is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.

With two games remaining in the regular season, the Spartans are tied with #19 Washington & Jefferson College for first-place in the Presidents' Athletic Conference with a 6-1 league record.  CWRU stands at 7-1 overall, including a 3-0 record at home this season, and has won three-straight games entering Saturday's affair.  CWRU wrapped-up its regular-season road slate last week with a 34-3 win at Bethany College.  Through their first eight games of the season, the Spartans have averaged 39.9 points per game on 475.9 yards of offense (153.0 rushing and 322.9 passing yards), while allowing 16.9 points per game on 279.9 total yards (96.8 rushing and 183.1 passing).

Freshman quarterback Drew Saxton has completed 64.6% of his passes for 2,375 yards and 28 touchdowns with just six interceptions.  Junior Sam Jenkins has been the team's leading rusher with 384 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 329 rushing yards and three touchdowns.  At wide receiver, sophomore Colt Morgan leads the team with 63 receptions for 888 yards and 16 touchdowns, senior wide receiver Justin Phan has collected 41 passes for 462 yards this year and senior wide receiver Luke DiFrancesco has secured 37 catches for 460 yards and six touchdowns.  Defensively, junior linebacker Isaac Withrow and sophomore safety Joshua Smith lead the team with 68 and 62 tackles respectively, while junior safety and co-captain Patrick Crossey has 58 tackles, two interceptions and four pass breakups.  Senior defensive end Cameron Brown has paced the squad with 14.0 sacks, 17.0 tackles for a loss, and five quarterback hurries in 2018.  Freshman cornerback Colin Schuster leads the team with three interceptions and has added five pass breakups during the year.  Freshman kicker Robertson Albrecht has accumulated 53 points, making 41 of his 42 extra point attempts and all four of his field goal tries.

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 109-44 career record, good for a .712 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.

After an 0-3 start to the season, Waynesburg has been one of the hottest teams in the PAC, winning four of their last five games to improve to 4-4 overall, including a 2-2 mark in road contests.  The Yellow Jackets are currently 4-3 in league games, and sit in a tie for fourth place in the conference standings entering the weekend.  The team is coming off a 12-10 win at Saint Vincent College last Saturday, with junior quarterback Tyler Perone throwing a nine-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Nick Moretti with 4:50 to play in the game to give the team the lead for good.  Waynesburg averages 15.3 points per game this season on 285.5 yards of offense (99.0 rushing and 186.5 passing), while allowing 20.9 points per game on 303.9 yards of offense (139.6 rushing and 164.2 passing).

Perone has completed 54.3% of his passes this season for 1,153 yards and five touchdowns with five interceptions.  The Yellow Jackets leading rusher is junior Chad Walker with 599 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.  Moretti leads the receiving corps with 36 receptions for 413 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore Cole Booth has caught 25 passes for 368 yards and two touchdowns.  On defense, junior linebacker Tyler Smith has paced the team with 63 tackles and 12.0 tackles for a loss with two sacks, and senior linebacker Logan Eller has nine tackles for a loss and a team-leading three sacks.  Senior defensive back Andrew Brncic and junior defensive back Brennan Sefick each have a team-high two interceptions this year.

Waynesburg is coached by Chris Smithley, who is a 2009 graduate of the program.  He is now in his second season with the team and has notched a 6-12 overall record, good for a .333 winning percentage.

Saturday's game will be the fifth meeting all-time between the Spartans and the Yellow Jackets, each of which has occurred since 2014, when CWRU joined the PAC as a football affiliate member of the conference.  The Spartans have won each of the last three meetings and are 3-1 overall against Waynesburg, including a 2-0 record in games played at DiSanto Field.

Last year, the Spartans defeated Waynesburg 56-21 at DiSanto Field on September 23rd.  CWRU outgained the Yellow Jackets 595-255 in the game, including a 281-74 edge in rushing yards.  Former Spartan Jacob Burke ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns in the game, and quarterback Rob Cuda threw for 314 yards and three touchdowns.  Justin Phan led the Spartans' receivers with six receptions for 93 yards and a touchdown.

Case Western Reserve climbed two spots in this week's Top-25, rising from 22nd in last week's poll to 20th in this week's rankings.  The Spartans have been ranked in all nine polls conducted by this season, and in 22-straight polls, dating back to the start of the 2017 campaign.  CWRU also moved up one spot to 19th in this week's AFCA poll.

With two games remaining in the regular season, CWRU is tied with Washington and Jefferson for first place in the PAC with a 6-1 conference record.  Should both teams win out, they would split the conference title for the second-consecutive year.  However, due to Washington & Jefferson's head-to-head win over the Spartans on October 6th, the Presidents would win the tiebreaker to gain the league's automatic berth into the NCAA playoff field.

Capturing weekly national and conference honors this week for Case Western Reserve were senior defensive end Cameron Brown, freshman kicker Robertson Albrecht, senior wide receiver Luke DiFrancesco and freshman cornerback Colin Schuster.  Brown (three sacks, INT returned for a TD) was named the defensive end on the Team of the Week for the second time in the last three weeks, and was selected as both the PAC and UAA Defensive Player of the Week for the third-consecutive week.  Albrecht (two FGs, four XPs) was named the PAC and UAA Special Teams Player of the Week for the first time in his career, and DiFrancesco (four receptions, 61 yards, TD) secured UAA Offensive Athlete of the Week honors for the first time this season and second time over his career.  Rounding out the list of honorees, Schuster (two INTs, one TD) was selected as the PAC Rookie of the Week.

The Spartans now stand at 235-233-4 all-time, with the team's win over Geneva two weeks ago marking the first time in the program's 48-year history that the team had registered an all-time record of above .500.  Following the merger of the Case Institute of Technology and Western Reserve University, 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 team's win over Westminster earlier this year.

Since becoming a football affiliate member of the Presidents' Athletic Conference in 2014, the Spartans have gone 30-9 in conference play, good for a .769 winning percentage.  CWRU will enter today's game as winners of 21 of their last 23 league games.

Case Western Reserve has scored on 93.9% (31-of-33) of its trips into the red zone this season, and currently leads the PAC and ranks fourth in Division III in red zone offense.  The Spartans have converted 27 touchdowns and four field goals on their 33 red zone trips in 2018, reaching the end zone 11 times via the run and 16 via the pass.

Senior defensive end Cameron Brown has notched 9.5 sacks over his last three games, surging to lead all Division III players this season with 1.75 sacks per game and 14.0 total sacks.  With a three-sack effort against Bethany last weekend, Brown set a new program record for sacks in a season, passing the previous mark of 13.0, set by Derek Messmer in 1995.  He is also 11th in Division III (and second in the PAC) with 2.1 tackles for a loss per game, and 19th among Division III players (and second in the PAC) with 0.38 forced fumbles per game (three total).  In addition to the three sacks on Saturday, Brown forced a fumble on a strip sack, and returned the first interception of his career for a touchdown.

Freshman cornerback Colin Schuster picked off a pair of passes against Bethany on Saturday, and now leads the team with three interceptions during the 2018 campaign.  He returned one interception 51 yards for a touchdown during the fourth quarter of Saturday's game.

The Spartans are 10th among all NCAA Division III teams and lead the PAC with 322.9 passing yards per game this season.  Freshman quarterback Drew Saxton has led the way, ranking fourth among Division III quarterbacks with 28 passing touchdowns, ninth with 296.9 yards per game, and 13th with a 169.0 passing efficiency.  Saxton has already set the freshman record for passing yards and touchdowns in a season, is tied for fourth in program history overall for passing touchdowns in a single campaign (six away from the record), and is seventh overall in passing yards (965 away from the record).

Sophomore wide receiver Colt Morgan has set a school record with 16 touchdown receptions this season, passing the previous mark of 13, recorded by Bryan Erb in 2015.  His 63 receptions are tied with Joseph Brenner (2006) for the sixth-most in a single season in program history (27 away from the single-season record), while his 888 receiving yards are the sixth-most ever by a Spartan (277 shy of the program record).