2019 CWRU Football Season Recap

2019 CWRU Football Team Photo

The Case Western Reserve University football team completed another successful season in 2019, winning the Presidents' Athletic Conference Championship for the second time in the last three years, and earning the fifth NCAA postseason berth in the program's history.

The Spartans finished the year with a 9-2 overall record, marking the team's fifth-straight winning season and the eighth time in CWRU history that the squad has won nine or more games. CWRU went 8-1 in PAC games, finishing a game ahead in the standings of both Grove City and Carnegie Mellon to secure the league title outright for the first time in program history.

By virtue of winning the PAC regular season title, the Spartans earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history (the team's previous four NCAA bids had either been the result of Pool 'B' or Pool 'C' at-large bids). The Spartans were sent to Schenectady, New York for the first round of the NCAA Playoffs, where they faced off against no. 13/14 Union College. CWRU was dominant in the opening half of the game, outgaining Union 234-97 and carrying a 21-3 lead into halftime, but could not hold onto the lead, surrendering 21 unanswered points in the second half and suffering a season-ending 24-21 loss to the Dutchmen.

Junior wide receiver Colt Morgan, who would later be named a D3football.com All-America honorable mention, finished the game with 14 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, setting the program's single-season record with 1,186 receiving yards, while notching the second-most receptions (89) and receiving touchdowns (15) with the effort. Morgan also became the program's all-time leader in career touchdown receptions with 34 during the campaign.

Also setting a career record during the campaign was senior defensive end Cameron Brown, who became the program's all-time leader with 34.5 sacks. Brown was named the PAC Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight year in 2019, becoming the first player in conference history to earn the honor multiple times, while becoming just the third player in CWRU history to earn all-PAC honors all four years of a career.

A total of 14 Spartans earned All-PAC recognition, including first team selections in Brown, junior right tackle Dee Gose, Morgan, sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton, junior linebacker Travis Johnston, and senior safety Patrick Crossey. Sixteenth-year Head Coach Greg Debeljak was named the PAC Coach of the Year for the second time over his career at the conclusion of the regular season.

The Spartans were ranked throughout the majority of the 2019 campaign, climbing to as high as 20th in the D3football.com Top-25 and 15th in the American Football Coaches Association rankings following their conference title clinching win over Waynesburg on November 9. CWRU ended the campaign receiving votes in each of the two major polls.

Case Western Reserve won its first nine games of the 2019 campaign, clinching at least a share of the Presidents' Athletic Conference Championship with a 35-14 win at home against Bethany on 'Senior Day' and securing the outright title with a 27-24 win at Waynesburg with one game left in the regular season on November 9.

After claiming a 37-6 win at Rochester in the Spartans' only non-conference game of the year to open the season, CWRU returned home to secure a dominating 52-14 win over Grove City, marking the team's highest point total of the campaign. The victory put an end to a nine-game winning streak for the Wolverines, which was the second-longest among Division III teams at the time.

The Spartans went on to claim a 37-6 win over Thiel on the road, before embarking on a key stretch of the season, with home games against Westminster and Washington & Jefferson. On October 5 against Westminster, the Spartans trailed by six points heading into the fourth quarter, before a 31-yard touchdown pass from Saxton to Morgan gave the team the lead with under 12 minutes to play, and a four-yard scoring run by sophomore running back Donald Day III with less than two minutes remaining in the game helped secure the 21-13 victory. One of the Spartans' best played games of the campaign came on Homecoming against Washington & Jefferson, as CWRU scored 28 unanswered points between the first and fourth quarters, and outgained the Presidents 520-296 to claim a 35-19 win. The two home victories gave CWRU a 5-0 record halfway through the campaign, and put the team in the driver's seat for the 2019 PAC Championship.

Case Western Reserve continued to rack up the victories, defeating Saint Vincent 34-26 on the road and topping Geneva 30-23 at home, before assuring themselves the share of the league title with the win over Bethany, and claiming it outright with the triumph at Waynesburg. The Spartans' lone loss of the regular season came in their final game of the campaign, as the team suffered a 24-21 setback at Carnegie Mellon in the 34th-Annual Academic Bowl, which came down to the final snap of the contest for the fourth-straight year.

With the nine wins in 2019, the Spartans' senior class graduated as the second-winningest group in program history with a 37-5 overall record, behind only the 39-5 class of 2010.

In addition to their success on the field, the Spartans also succeeded in the classroom. Three members of the CWRU football team – Johnston, Gose and senior defensive lineman Andrew Lease – were named to the CoSIDA Academic All-America team. The three Academic All-Americans were the most among Division III programs during the year, while the Spartans were also one of just three teams with multiple first team selections (Gose and Johnston). The trio of Academic All-Americans were joined Crossey, junior running back Zach Hall and sophomore kicker Robertson Albrecht on the Academic All-District team. A total of 30 Spartans were named to the PAC Fall Academic Honor Roll (recorded a GPA of 3.6 or higher during the Fall 2019 semester), while 30 CWRU players also received UAA Fall All-Academic recognition for carrying a cumulative grade point average of 3.3 or higher.

CWRU football players won the following awards during the 2019 season:

 

D3football.com All-America

Colt Morgan

Junior

Wide Receiver

Wooster, Ohio / Wooster

Honorable Mention

 

Cliff Harris Award Finalist

Cameron Brown

Senior

Defensive End

Westlake, Ohio / Westlake

 

William V. Campbell Trophy Semifinalist

Isaac Withrow

Senior

Linebacker

Winfield, W. Va. / Winfield

 

D3football.com All-South Region

Colt Morgan

Junior

Wide Receiver

Wooster, Ohio / Wooster

First Team

Cameron Brown

Senior

Defensive End

Westlake, Ohio / Westlake

Second Team

Patrick Crossey

Senior

Safety

Pittsburgh, Pa. / Plum Senior

Second Team

 

PAC Coach of the Year

Greg Debeljak

 

PAC Defensive Player of the Year

Cameron Brown

Senior

Westlake, Ohio / Westlake

 

All-PAC

Cameron Brown

Senior

Defensive Line

Westlake, Ohio / Westlake

First Team

Patrick Crossey

Senior

Defensive Back

Pittsburgh, Pa. / Plum Senior

First Team

Dee Gose

Junior

Offensive Line

Lewisburg, Pa. / Lewisburg Area

First Team

Travis Johnston

Junior

Linebacker

Zanesville, Ohio / Bishop Rosencrans

First Team

Colt Morgan

Junior

Wide Receiver

Wooster, Ohio / Wooster

First Team

Drew Saxton

Sophomore

Quarterback

South Fayette, Pa. / South Fayette

First Team

Andrew Lease

Senior

Defensive Line

Pittsburgh, Pa. / Seton-LaSalle Catholic

Second Team

Anthony Polizzi

Junior

Offensive Line

Brockport, N.Y. / Brockport

Second Team

Joshua Smith

Junior

Linebacker

Atlanta, Ga. / Benjamin E. Mays

Second Team

Robertson Albrecht

Sophomore

Kicker

Aurora, Ohio / Aurora

Honorable Mention

Brett Carney

Junior

Running Back

Irwin, Pa. / Penn-Trafford

Honorable Mention

Zach Hall

Junior

Running Back

New Albany, Ohio / New Albany

Honorable Mention

Mario Robaina

Senior

Wide Receiver

Miami, Fla. / Belen Jesuit Prep

Honorable Mention

Kevin Chrissis

Senior

Defensive Back

Painesville, Ohio / Riverside

Honorable Mention

 

PAC Football Sportsmanship Team

Ryan Coolidge

Senior

Quarterback/ Wide Receiver

Chicago, Ill. / St. Ignatius Prep

 

D3football.com Team of the Week

Joshua Smith

Junior

Linebacker

Atlanta, Ga. / Benjamin E. Mays

Oct. 15, Nov. 12

Cameron Brown

Senior

Defensive End

Westlake, Ohio / Westlake

Oct. 8

Andrew Lease

Senior

Defensive Tackle

Pittsburgh, Pa. / Seton-LaSalle Catholic

Oct. 1

 

PAC Player of the Week

Cameron Brown

Senior

Westlake, Ohio / Westlake

Sept. 30 (Def.), Nov. 4 (Def.)

Travis Johnston

Junior

Zanesville, Ohio / Bishop Rosencrans

Oct. 7 (Def.), Nov. 4 (ST)

Colt Morgan

Junior

Wooster, Ohio / Wooster

Sept. 9 (Off.)

Drew Saxton

Sophomore

South Fayette, Pa. / South Fayette

Oct. 14 (Off.)

 

UAA Athlete of the Week

Colt Morgan

Junior

Wooster, Ohio / Wooster

Oct. 28 (Off.), Nov. 4 (Off.), Nov. 26 (Off.)

Travis Johnston

Junior

Zanesville, Ohio / Bishop Rosencrans

Oct. 7 (Def.), Nov. 11 (ST)

Drew Saxton

Sophomore

South Fayette, Pa. / South Fayette

Oct. 14 (Off.), Oct. 21 (Off.)

Joshua Smith

Junior

Atlanta, Ga. / Benjamin E. Mays

Oct. 14 (Def.), Nov. 11 (Def.)

Michael Amadio

Junior

Charlotte, N.C. / William Amos Hough

Sept. 9 (ST)

Cameron Brown

Senior

Westlake, Ohio / Westlake

Sept. 30 (Def.)

Skyler Wadas

Junior

Clovis, N.M. / Clovis

Nov. 26 (Def.)

 

CoSIDA Academic All-America

Dee Gose

Junior

Offensive Line

Lewisburg, Pa. / Lewisburg Area

First Team

Travis Johnston

Junior

Linebacker

Zanesville, Ohio / Bishop Rosencrans

First Team

Andrew Lease

Senior

Defensive Line

Pittsburgh, Pa. / Seton-LaSalle Catholic

Second Team

 

CoSIDA Academic All-District

Robertson Albrecht

Sophomore

Kicker

Aurora, Ohio / Aurora

Patrick Crossey

Senior

Defensive Back

Pittsburgh, Pa. / Plum Senior

Dee Gose

Junior

Offensive Line

Lewisburg, Pa. / Lewisburg Area

Zach Hall

Junior

Running Back

New Albany, Ohio / New Albany

Travis Johnston

Junior

Linebacker

Zanesville, Ohio / Bishop Rosencrans

Andrew Lease

Senior

Defensive Line

Pittsburgh, Pa. / Seton-LaSalle Catholic

 

The following were the Spartans' team leaders during the 2019 season:

 

Passing Yards

Drew Saxton

2,966

Passing TDs

Drew Saxton

26

Rushing Yards

Zach Hall

671

Rushing TDs

Donald Day III

5

Receptions

Colt Morgan

89

Receiving Yards

Colt Morgan

1,186 *

Receiving TDs

Colt Morgan

15

Tackles

Patrick Crossey

80

Sacks

Cameron Brown

10.5

Interceptions

Kevin Chrissis & Luke Bedell

3

 

* Indicates School Record