#25 CWRU to Face #13/14 Union in First Round of NCAA Playoffs

#25 CWRU to Face #13/14 Union in First Round of NCAA Playoffs

2019 Case Western Reserve University Football
NCAA Division III Championships – First Round
#25 CWRU (9-1, 8-1 PAC) at #13/14 Union College (10-0, 6-0 Liberty League)
Saturday, November 23, 2019 · 12:00 PM · Schenectady, N.Y. (Frank Bailey Field at Bertanga - Class of 1985 Stadium)

Complete game notes (.PDF format):
https://athletics.case.edu/sports/fball/2019-20/files/fb_Union_game_notes19.pdf
Live stats: https://unionathletics.com/sidearmstats/football/summary
Video:
https://unionathletics.com/sports/2018/8/23/football-video.aspx

The Case Western Reserve University football team, ranked 25th in Division III, will travel to Frank Bailey Field in Schenectady, New York to face #13/14 Union College in the opening round of the 2019 NCAA Division III Playoffs on Saturday, November 23rd at 12:00 p.m.

TALE OF THE TAPE

CWRU

 

Union

AVG

PAC

NCAA

 

NCAA

PAC

AVG

32.9

4th

60th

Scoring Offense

54th

2nd

33.6

16.9

3rd

43rd

Scoring Defense

8th

1st

11.6

116.6

9th

166th

Rushing Offense

51st

1st

191.7

119.1

4th

76th

Rushing Defense

13th

2nd

73.5

273.3

2nd

43rd

Passing Offense

116th

6th

212.5

179.6

5th

55th

Passing Defense

89th

1st

196.3

389.9

4th

87th

Total Offense

70th

3rd

404.2

298.7

3rd

49th

Total Defense

18th

1st

269.8

21.07

2nd

75th

KO Return Average

78th

4th

20.95

9.20

4th

93rd

Punt Return Average

195th

3rd

5.0

28.38

9th

216th

Punting Average

18th

1st

35.82

0.431

2nd

61st

3rd Down Conversion

107th

2nd

0.392

39.90

1st

23rd

Penalty Yards/ Game

90th

2nd

53.40

3.30

2nd

19th

Sacks/ Game

38th

1st

2.90

30:53

4th

74th

Time of Possession

41st

1st

31:49


SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Case Western Reserve University finished the 2019 regular season with a 9-1 overall record, including an 8-1 record in the Presidents' Athletic Conference to claim the league title and an automatic bid to the NCAA postseason.  Included in the team's overall record was a 4-1 mark in road contests this season, with the team's one road loss coming in their final game of the regular season, a 24-21 setback at Carnegie Mellon last Saturday.  The Spartans outgained the Tartans 399-147 in the game, but were ultimately hurt by four turnovers in the contest.  Sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns, junior wide receiver Colt Morgan caught 11 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, and junior running back Zach Hall carried the ball 20 times for 104 yards.  On defense, CWRU finished the game with five sacks, including 1.5 for senior defensive lineman Andrew Lease.

Saxton has completed 60.1% of his passes this season for 2,718 yards and 24 touchdowns with 12 interceptions.  Morgan has been his primary target, catching 75 passes for 1,011 yards and 13 touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Mario Robaina (55 catches, 644 yards, 2 TDs) and junior wide receiver Chase Witte (27 receptions, 467 yards, 5 TDs) have also been factors in the receiving game.  Hall has been the team's top runner this season with 608 yards and two TDs on the ground, with sophomore Donald Day III adding 338 yards and four TDs.

On defense, senior safety Patrick Crossey has a team-leading 75 tackles, while also registering a pair of interceptions.  Junior linebacker Joshua Smith has 63 tackles on the campaign, including 7.5 sacks and 14.5 for a loss, while also picking off a pair of passes.  Junior linebacker Travis Johnston is tied for second on the squad with 63 tackles this year, and has blocked a pair of kicks.  Senior defensive end Cameron Brown has paced the defense in sacks (10.5), tackles for a loss (17.5) and forced fumbles (6), while seniors cornerback Kevin Chrissis and Luke Bedell each have a team-high 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 119-46 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, five NCAA playoff appearances and two PAC Championships, including this year's title.  Debeljak was named the PAC Coach of the Year in 2017, and earned the honor again this season.

CWRU POSTSEASON HISTORY
This will be the Spartans' fifth NCAA postseason appearance in program history, and their second in the last three years.  In 2017, the Spartans claimed a 28-0 first-round victory on the road at Illinois Wesleyan, before suffering a 45-16 loss at Mount Union in the second round.  CWRU also reached the second round of the NCAA playoffs in 2007, while being handed first-round defeats in both 2008 and 2009.  The Spartans are 1-1 all-time in NCAA postseason road contests and 2-4 overall in NCAA playoff games.

ALL-CONFERENCE SPARTANS
Fourteen members of the CWRU football team were named to the All-PAC Team, as announced by the conference on Tuesday.  Cameron Brown headlined the selections, becoming the first two-time PAC Defensive Most Valuable Player since the award was introduced in 2013, and claimed his third-straight All-PAC First Team honor.  Other All-PAC First Team selections for the Spartans included junior right tackle Dee Gose, Colt Morgan, Drew Saxton, Travis Johnston and Patrick Crossey.  Junior right guard Anthony Polizzi, Andrew Lease and Joshua Smith were each named to the All-PAC Second Team, while junior running back Brett Carney, Mario Robaina, Zach Hall, Kevin Chrissis and sophomore kicker Robertson Albrecht were chosen as honorable mentions.  Senior quarterback/ wide receiver Ryan Coolidge was named the Spartans' representative on the PAC Sportsmanship Team.

SCOUTING THE DUTCHMEN
Union won its first Liberty League Championship since the 2011 season this year, finishing the season with a 10-0 overall record and a 6-0 conference mark, and is currently riding a 13-game winning streak dating back to last season.  The Dutchmen, who are ranked 13th by D3football.com and 14th by the American Football Coaches Association, were also 6-0 on their home turf during the campaign.  The team wrapped up its undefeated regular season (its first since 2005 and 10th overall) with a 33-0 win against Rensselaer last weekend.  Sophomore running back Ike Irabor ran for three touchdowns in the game, while both sophomore Andre Ross Jr. and junior Will Sirmon caught touchdown passes from junior quarterback Will Bellamy.  Junior linebacker Colin Lama led the team with 12 tackles and forced a fumbles, and junior defensive end Daniel Gioioso had three sacks in the game.

Irabor had led the Dutchmen offense this year, running for 1,093 yards and 15 touchdowns.  Bellamy has completed 65.1% of his passes for 1,940 yards with 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions.  The team's top receivers are senior Griffin Beal (46 catches, 508 yards, 2 TDs), Ross (33 catches, 686 yards, 9 TDs) and Sirmon (19 catches, 336 yards, 2 TDs).

Lama leads the defense with 71 tackles this season, including 11.0 for a loss, and senior linebacker Evan Gilland has added 63 stops.  Gioioso has registered 5.0 sacks and 10.5 total tackles for a loss and senior defensive end Vincenzo DiCaterino has 4.5 sacks with 13.5 total tackles for a loss.  Senior safety Joe Vanderhoof has paced the squad with three interceptions, and junior cornerback Brandon Scadlock has broken up a team-best nine passes.

Union is led by Head Coach Jeff Behrman, who is now in his fourth season with the team, and has led the Dutchmen to a 27-13 record.  Behrman is a 1995 graduate of John Carroll, where he played quarterback for the football team, while CWRU's Greg Debeljak served as the program's quarterback coach.  He was recently named the 2019 Liberty League Coach of the Year.

UNION POSTSEASON HISTORY
Union is making its 12th NCAA playoff appearance and its first since the 2006 campaign.  The Dutchmen are 9-11 all-time in NCAA playoff games, including runner-up finishes in 1983 and 1989.  The team's last postseason victory came during the 2005 season.

ALL-CONFERENCE DUTCHMEN
The Dutchmen were well represented on the All-Liberty League team this year.  Ike Irabor was named the conference's Offensive Player of the Year, and was joined on the all-conference first team by Andre Ross Jr., junior tight end Spencer Crystal, sophomore left tackle Tim Driscoll, junior center Ryan Ehrets, Vincenzo DiCaterino, Daniel Gioioso, Colin Lama and senior punter Will Halpin III.  Union's All-Liberty League Second Team honorees include William Bellamy, sophomore running back Joseph Ferreira, junior left guard Chris Katchadurian, first-year right tackle Max Langsam, Evan Gilland, senior cornerback Paul Chambers, sophomore safety Austin St. Pierre, Joe Vanderhoof, and first-year returner Kevin Rabacs, while senior linebackers George Reed and Cass Knox and Brandon Scadlock were named honorable mentions.

FIRST MEETING
This Saturday's game will be the first-ever meeting between the Spartans and the Dutchmen.

IN THE POLLS
Following last week's loss, the Spartans dropped from 15th to 25th in the AFCA Top-25, and fell out of the D3football.com Top-25 after being ranked 20th last week.  The Spartans are second among teams receiving votes in the D3football.com poll this week.

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 37-5 record, good for a .881 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 30-4 in PAC games over the last four years, good for a .882 winning percentage, and has claimed two league titles.

MORGAN SETS PROGRAM RECORD
Colt Morgan
registered the 32nd touchdown catch of his career last Saturday against Carnegie Mellon to become the program's all-time career leader, passing the previous record held by David Kallevig (2001-04) and Shaun Nicely (2007-10).  He is also fifth in program history in career receptions (159), sixth in receiving yards (2,140), and tied for sixth in total points scored (192).  Morgan also surpassed 1,000 yards for the season against Carnegie Mellon, becoming the second Spartan ever (along with Zach Homyk in 2009 and 2010) to break the 1,000-yard mark in a season twice.  His 1,011 receiving yards this year are the sixth-most in CWRU history and 154 away from Homyk's single season record, while his 75 receptions rank third in program history and are 15 shy of Homyk's program-best mark.

SAXTON APPROACHING 3,000 YARDS
Drew Saxton
will enter Saturday's game with 2,718 yards for the season, the fifth-most ever by a Spartan quarterback.  He needs 282 yards to reach the 3,000-yard mark for the second-straight season, and become the first quarterback in program history with multiple 3,000-yard campaigns. 

SPARTANS IN THE TOP-25 NATIONAL STATISTICAL RANKINGS
Cameron Brown
leads all Division III players in forced fumbles (0.60), 11th in sacks per game (1.10) and 22nd in tackles for a loss per game (1.8)…  Travis Johnston is eighth in fumbles recovered (3), ninth in kickoffs return touchdowns (1) and 22nd in blocked kicks (2)… Drew Saxton is 21st in passing yards (2,718) and 24th in completions per game (21.8)… Colt Morgan is 13th in receptions per game (7.5), 17th in receiving touchdowns (13) and 25th in receiving yards (1,011).

CWRU MILESTONES
Zach Hall
surpassed 1,000 career rushing yards with the second 100-yard game of his career against Carnegie Mellon… Donald Day III is three yards shy of 500 career rushing yards… Drew Saxton's 58 career passing touchdowns are the fourth-most by a Spartan player, and one short of matching former CWRU quarterback Eli Grant (2000-03) for third in program history… His 24 passing touchdowns this season are the sixth-most in a campaign by a Spartan quarterback… Saxton's 287.4 passing yards per game for his career lead all DIII players and is sixth among NCAA players of all levels… Colt Morgan's 13 receiving touchdowns are the second-most in a season in team history and five shy of his own program record… Chase Witte surpassed the 500-yard receiving mark for his career against Carnegie Mellon last week… Cameron Brown is the CWRU record holder with 34.5 sacks, and he is fifth among active Division III players with 0.85 sacks per game over his career… His 10.5 sacks this season are the fourth-most by a Spartan in a single campaign, and he is the only player in program history with 10 or more sacks in multiple seasons… Robertson Albrecht's 63 points this year are tied for the sixth-most among CWRU kickers, while his 138 career points rank fourth among kickers in program history… Patrick Crossey's 277 career tackles are the 12th-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.