#20/15 CWRU to Wrap-Up Regular Season at CMU with 34th-Annual Academic Bowl

Quarterback Drew Saxton awaits the snap for the Spartans against Bethany

2019 Case Western Reserve University Football
Game #10 – #20/15 CWRU (9-0, 8-0 PAC) at Carnegie Mellon University (7-2, 6-2 PAC)
Saturday, November 16, 2019 · 1:00 PM · Pittsburgh, Pa. (Gesling Stadium)

Complete game notes (.PDF format):
https://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2019-20/files/fb_CMU_game_notes19.pdf
Live stats: https://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2019-20/boxscores/20191116_kft0.xml
Video:
https://athletics.cmu.edu/sports/fball/live

Fresh off clinching sole possession of the 2019 Presidents' Athletic Conference Championship last weekend, the 20th/15th-ranked Case Western Reserve University football team will look to complete just the sixth undefeated regular season in program history, when the team faces off against Carnegie Mellon University in the 34th-annual Academic Bowl in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday, November 16th.  Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.

TALE OF THE TAPE

 

CWRU

 

Carnegie Mellon

AVG

PAC

NCAA

 

NCAA

PAC

AVG

34.2

2nd

48th

Scoring Offense

101st

5th

28.1

16.1

2nd

33rd

Scoring Defense

14th

1st

12.9

117.6

8th

168th

Rushing Offense

92nd

5th

162.0

128.7

5th

95th

Rushing Defense

41st

2nd

102.7

271.3

2nd

41st

Passing Offense

168th

5th

179.6

186.9

4th

64th

Passing Defense

45th

3rd

173.8

388.9

4th

87th

Total Offense

146th

6th

341.6

315.6

4th

62nd

Total Defense

25th

1st

276.4

21.29

4th

75th

KO Return Average

61st

3rd

21.59

10.67

4th

63rd

Punt Return Average

124th

5th

8.09

29.13

6th

199th

Punting Average

51st

2nd

34.04

0.448

2nd

45th

3rd Down Conversion

149th

8th

0.359

40.78

2nd

26th

Penalty Yards/ Game

64th

5th

49.78

3.11

3rd

27th

Sacks/ Game

15th

2nd

3.44

30:26

5th

104th

Time of Possession

96th

4th

30:33


SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Case Western Reserve University will enter the final game of the regular season with a perfect 9-0 record, and have locked up a first-place finish in the PAC with an 8-0 mark in conference games.  Included in the team's overall record is a 4-0 ledger in road contests.  The Spartans are coming off a 27-24 win at Waynesburg last Saturday, during which junior Travis Johnston returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and rushed for another score, and junior linebacker Joshua Smith recorded 13 tackles, including three for a loss, and an interception.

Sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton has completed 60.8% of his passes this season for 2,427 yards and 21 touchdowns with nine interceptions.  Junior Colt Morgan has caught 64 passes for 889 yards and 12 touchdowns, with senior Mario Robaina (47 catches, 551 yards, 1 TD) and junior wide receiver Chase Witte (21 catches, 411 yards, 4 TDs) also providing major targets for Saxton.  The Spartans' running game has been paced by the duo of junior Zach Hall (504 yards, 2 TDs) and sophomore Donald Day III (319 yards, 4 TDs).

Senior safety Patrick Crossey is the team's leading tackler with 67 this year to go along with a pair of interceptions.  Johnston has added 61 tackles and three fumble recoveries, while Smith has registered 57 tackles, including 7.5 sacks and 13.5 total tackles for a loss.  Senior defensive end Cameron Brown leads the squad with 9.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for a loss, and senior cornerbacks Kevin Chrissis and Luke Bedell are each tied for the team lead with three interceptions.

The Spartans are under the leadership of Head Coach Greg Debeljak, who is in his 16th season with the team.  He ranks as the winningest coach in the program's history, tallying a 119-45 career record with the squad, good for a .726 winning percentage.  The 1988 graduate of John Carroll University has helped lead the Spartans to six UAA Championships, four NCAA playoff appearances and two PAC Championships, including this year's title.  Debeljak was named the PAC Coach of the Year in 2017.

SCOUTING THE TARTANS
Carnegie Mellon will enter Saturday's game with an overall record of 7-2, and sits in a tie for second place in the conference with Grove City with a 6-2 league record.  Included in the team's overall record is a perfect 4-0 mark at home this season.  The Tartans will come into the Academic Bowl riding a two-game winning streak, including a 20-14 home win over Westminster last weekend.  Running backs Chris Haas and Luke Bikulege each ran for touchdowns in the first quarter of the game, and sophomore Brandon Nguyen kicked two field goals in the second half to secure the victory for Carnegie Mellon.

Junior quarterback JD Dayhuff has completed 57.1% of his passes for 1,530 yards with 14 touchdowns and eight interceptions, while rushing for an additional 310 yards and four touchdowns.  Haas, a senior, has ran for 518 yards and four touchdowns, while Bikulege, a junior, has 373 rushing yards and six touchdowns.  Top receivers for the Tartans include junior Alec Oshita (28 catches, 477 yards, 4 TDs) and sophomore Kris Hughes (23 catches, 286 yards, 6 TDs).

The Tartans' pass rush has been keyed by three different players – senior defensive end Long Tran (8.5 sacks), senior defensive end Michael Lohmeier (8.0 sacks) and junior defensive end Sam Brod (8.0 sacks).  Senior outside linebacker Quinn Gaughan leads Carnegie Mellon with 74 total tackles, and senior safety Thomas Polutchko and first-year safety Aryan Hedge each have two interceptions apiece.

Carnegie Mellon is coached by Rich Lackner, a 1979 graduate of the school.  Lackner has spent his entire 34-year career as a head coach at the Tartans' helm, guiding the squad to an overall record of 223-120-2.

PAC CHAMPIONS
With last Saturday's win over Waynesburg, the Spartans clinched sole possession of the 2019 PAC Championship.  It was the second PAC Title in the program's history and the first outright championship, after splitting the trophy with Washington and Jefferson in 2017.  By virtue of winning the championship, the Spartans will receive the conference's automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Playoffs, and will be making the fifth postseason appearance in program history this season (previous postseason berths for the Spartans came in 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2017).  CWRU will begin its postseason run on Saturday, November 23rd, with the team's first round opponent and game location (along with the full tournament bracket) being revealed via a live NCAA selection show on NCAA.com at 5:30 p.m.

34th-ANNUAL ACADEMIC BOWL
Saturday will mark the 34th playing of the Academic Bowl, the annual meeting between the Spartans and the Tartans.  Although the two teams have been playing each other since 1970, the game was not labeled as the 'Academic Bowl' until the 1986 meeting.  With each school ranked amongst the nation's elite research and scholastic institutions, a natural rivalry exists in academics.  So, as competition in the classroom continues, the winner of the coveted Academic Bowl can claim bragging rights on the athletic field for at least one year.


The Tartans hold a 18-15 edge in the Academic Bowl, although the Spartans have won nine of the last 12 meetings, and claimed a 21-14 win in the first-ever Academic Bowl in 1986.  The last two Academic Bowl games have gone into overtime, including a 41-34 win for the Spartans in Pittsburgh in 2017, and a 29-23 loss in Cleveland last year.  CWRU is 5-10 in Academic Bowl games played in Pittsburgh.

In last year's meeting, Drew Saxton threw for 331 yards and a touchdown, while Colt Morgan caught nine passes for 128 yards and a score.  On defense, Patrick Crossey registered a team-high 16 tackles in the game, and Kevin Chrissis tallied a pair of interceptions.

Carnegie Mellon holds a 29-19 edge overall in the series (including pre-Academic Bowl games), including a 15-6 advantage in games played in Pittsburgh.

IN THE POLLS
Case Western Reserve held tight in both of the national polls this week.  The Spartans remained 20th in the D3football.com Top-25 for the third-straight week, while staying at 15th in the AFCA poll for the second week in a row.  Both rankings are the team's highest of the season.

SENIOR CLASS SUCCESS
The 2019 CWRU senior football class has a chance to graduate as one of the most successful in the program's history.  Over the last four years, the team has amassed a 37-4 record, good for a .902 winning percentage and tied for the second-most wins by a single class in program history (two behind the program record of 39 set by the 2007-10 Spartans).  The team has also gone 30-3 in PAC games over the last four years, good for a .909 winning percentage, and has claimed two league titles.

UNDEFEATED SEASON
The Spartans are one of just 11 remaining NCAA Division III teams without a loss during the 2019 campaign.  With a win against Carnegie Mellon, Case Western Reserve can record the sixth undefeated regular season in the program's history.  Previous undefeated seasons for the Spartans came in 1984, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2017.  CWRU is one of just 38 teams across all three Divisions of the NCAA and the NAIA that will enter this week undefeated.

ROAD WARRIORS
The Spartans will carry a six-game road winning streak into Saturday's game at Carnegie Mellon, including a 4-0 mark on the road this season.  CWRU has won eight of their last nine road games dating back to the start of the 2018 season.

JOHNSTON RETURNS ONE FOR A TD
Travis Johnston
returned the opening kickoff of Saturday's game against Waynesburg 87 yards for a touchdown.  It was the first kick return for a touchdown by a Spartan player since September 13, 2008, when Bobby Bott registered an 84-yard return for a touchdown against Rochester.  It was also the second-longest kick return for a touchdown in program history, behind only Steve Rospert's 93-yard return in 1993 against Allegheny.

WEEKLY HONORS
Joshua Smith
was selected to the D3football.com Team of the Week following his standout performance against Waynesburg on Saturday.  It was his second nod to the Team of the Week this season.  In addition, Smith was named the UAA Defensive Athlete of the Week for the second time this season, while Travis Johnston was named the UAA Special Teams Player of the Week for the first time (he earned UAA Defensive Player of the Week honors earlier in the year).

SPARTANS IN THE TOP-25 NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS
Cameron Brown
leads all Division III players this season with 0.67 forced fumbles per game… He is also 10th in Division III with 1.11 sacks per game and 15th with 1.9 tackles for a loss per contest… Travis Johnston is fourth among Division III players in fumbles recovered (3), sixth in kickoff returns for a touchdown (1), and 19th in blocked kicks (2) and kick returns (27.0 yards per return)… Colt Morgan is 16th in receiving touchdowns (12) and 21st in receptions per game (7.1)… Drew Saxton is 25th in passing yards (2,427).

APPROACHING MILESTONES
Zach Hall
is 57 rushing yards away from 1,000 for his career… Donald Day III is 22 rushing yards away from 500 for his career… Colt Morgan passed 2,000 receiving yards for his career last Saturday, and his 2,018 career yards rank as the eighth-most in program history… Morgan is six yards away from seventh in program history, and 15 yards away from sixth… His 148 career receptions are tied for the seventh-most ever by a Spartan player, and his 31 career touchdown receptions are tied for the program record… Morgan's 889 receiving yards this season are the seventh-most ever by a CWRU player, and he needs just 111 more yards to become just the second player in program history with two 1,000-receiving yard seasons… His 12 receiving TDs this year are tied for the third most in program history… Drew Saxton is fifth in program history with 5,460 passing yards, and his 2,427 passing yards this season are the seventh-most in a single year by a Spartan… Saxton's 21 passing touchdowns this year are the ninth-most ever by a CWRU quarterback and the 55 for his career are the fourth-most in program history… Chase Witte is 50 receiving yards shy of 500 for his career… Robertson Albrecht's 135 career points are the fourth most by a kicker in program history over a career, while his 60 points this season are the 10th-most… Cameron Brown is the CWRU record holder with 33.5 career sacks, and he is half a sack shy of becoming the first player in program history with multiple seasons of 10 or more sacks… Patrick Crossey's 269 career tackles are the 13th-most by a Spartan player, while his eight career interceptions are tied for the ninth most… Kevin Chrissis' seven career interceptions are tied for the 12th-most.