Backed by a four touchdown game from sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton and eight sacks from its defense, the 25th-ranked Case Western Reserve University football team defeated Washington & Jefferson College 35-19 in a battle of Presidents' Athletic Conference contenders on Saturday afternoon at DiSanto Field. With the win, the Spartans retain sole possession of first place in the PAC, improving to 4-0 in the conference and 5-0 overall. The Presidents drop to 3-2 in the PAC and 4-2 overall.
The Spartans' defense led the way yet again recording eight sacks, forcing two turnovers, and holding the Presidents to just 43 rushing yards. Junior linebacker Joshua Smith finished the game with eight tackles and recorded three of the eight sacks. Filling up the stat sheet was junior defensive end Dylan Zegers with 2.5 sacks and an interception, the first of his career. Leading the team with 13 tackles was senior safety Patrick Crossey. Senior defensive end Cameron Brown forced a fumble, added nine tackles and two sacks, and is now one-half sack away from tying the program career record in sacks.
Offensively, junior running back Zach Hall finished the game with a career-high 160 yards on 16 rushes, the first 100-yard game of his career. Saxton completed 21 of his 29 passes for 309 yards and threw for four touchdowns to four different receivers. It was Saxton's eighth career 300-yard game.
The Spartans struck first on the first possession of the game to take a 7-0 lead. Hall took the second play from scrimmage 65 yards to the four yard line and junior running back Kyle Turcovsky finished the drive with a touchdown plunge on the following play, his second of the season. Sophomore kicker Robertson Albrecht added the point after to give Case Western Reserve an early lead.
In response, W&J drove down the field and tied the game at seven on the ensuing drive. The Presidents went 74 yards on 12 plays in five minutes and 17 seconds and capped the drive off with a touchdown run. Senior running back Jordan West took a direct snap and ran the ball in from the two-yard line with over eight minutes left in the first quarter for the score.
On their next drive, the Presidents converted two third down plays, but the Spartans forced a turnover with Zegers' interception of W&J senior quarterback Jacob Adams.
Case Western Reserve capitalized on the turnover and scored on the following drive to take a 14-7 lead with a minute left in the first quarter. Saxton found freshman wide receiver Michael Wojkowski on a 46-yard touchdown pass. For Wojkowski, it was his first career touchdown.
The Spartans forced another turnover on the following W&J possession. On fourth down, Brown forced a fumble on a sack of Adams and junior middle linebacker Travis Johnston scooped up the loose ball to give CWRU possession.
On their first drive of the second half, the Spartans converted a fourth down with a fake punt. Johnston rushed for seven yards after receiving a direct snap and extended the drive for Case Western Reserve. A few plays later, Saxton found junior wide receiver Colt Morgan on a 21-yard touchdown pass to push the Spartans' lead to 14. Morgan finished with four catches and 62 yards on the day.
Saxton found another wide receiver for his third touchdown of the game on the first play of the fourth quarter. He connected with junior Chase Witte on a 60-yard score. After the extra point, Case Western Reserve led 28-7. Witte led the Spartans with 85 yards receiving on three catches.
With over nine minutes to play in the game, Saxton extended the Spartans' lead to 35-7 with a 29-yard touchdown pass to a fourth different receiver, senior Mario Robaina. For the game, Robaina caught five balls for 67 yards.
W&J cut into the deficit with two fourth quarter touchdowns. Adams found junior wide receiver Payton Skalos in the end zone to put the score at 35-13 with seven and a half minutes to go. Sophomore defensive back Colin Schuster blocked the extra point for the Spartans' fourth kick block of the season. The Presidents added another six points on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Adams to sophomore wide receiver Jordan Halford with just under five minutes to play in the game.
Case Western Reserve recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock on its final possession to secure the victory.
The Spartans next travel to Latrobe, Pennsylvania to take on PAC foe St. Vincent College on Saturday, October 19. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.