From Case Western Reserve University Athletics
Case Western Reserve University, ranked 16th in Division III, was dominant in a key Presidents' Athletic Conference game on Saturday afternoon, topping Westminster College 41-10 on 'Senior Day' at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio, and giving Head Coach Greg Debeljak the 100th victory of his collegiate coaching career.
Case Western Reserve remained perfect on the season, improving to 9-0 on the year, including a 7-0 record in PAC play. The Spartans will enter the final week of the regular season tied with 15th-ranked Washington & Jefferson for first in the conference standings, and could clinch at least a share of the PAC Championship with a win at Carnegie Mellon in next week's Academic Bowl in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Westminster fell to 6-3 with the loss and to 5-2 in the PAC. All three of the Titans' losses this season have come to teams ranked in the top-25 nationally.
Debeljak, who is now in his 14th season as the Spartans' Head Coach, improved to 100-42 for his career with Saturday's win. He ranks as the winningest coach in program history, both by victories and winning percentage (.704). Under his leadership, the team has won five UAA Championships, and has gone 87-25 since the start of the 2007 campaign.
Senior running back Jacob Burke finished the game with 160 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns. Senior quarterback Rob Cuda completed 10-of-18 passes for 177 yards with touchdowns to senior receivers Luke DiFrancesco and Zak Hurd. CWRU's offense totaled 442 yards of offense against a Westminster defense that had allowed an average of just 287.1 yards and 17.8 points per game.
The Spartans' defense held a team to one or fewer touchdowns for the fourth time through nine games this season. Sophomore safety Patrick Crossey led the team with 11 tackles, with senior cornerback Adrian Cannon collecting a late interception, and senior defensive end Dan Techman claiming a sack in the game.
The Spartans started quickly in Saturday's game, jumping out to a 14-0 lead with 8:08 remaining in the quarter on a pair of scoring runs by Burke. Case Western Reserve forced a three-and-out on Westminster's first drive, and on the ensuing possession, drove 45 yards on nine plays, with Burke reaching the end zone on a seven-yard run. After forcing another Westminster punt on the next drive, a 27-yard pass from Cuda to senior receiver Giuseppe Orsini and a 28-yard run by Burke gave the Spartans their second touchdown of the game and a 14-point lead. Westminster answered back later in the quarter, getting on the board with a three-yard touchdown pass from Paul Columbo to D'Aundre Johnston with 1:14 remaining in the first.
The Spartans would score again on their next drive, which was extended on a fake-punt play, with freshman punter Quinn Saluan finding senior linebacker Zach Lyon with a 27 yard pass to convert a fourth-and-seven. A 23-yard pass to junior receiver Justin Phan would put the Spartans on the two-yard line, and a two-yard touchdown run by Burke gave CWRU a 21-7 advantage with 14:32 remaining in the half. A field goal by Westminster's John Cybak pulled the Titans back to within 11 points with 7:52 left in the second quarter, but the Spartans extended their lead once again when Cuda found DiFrancesco in stride in the end zone with a 34-yard pass to give CWRU a 28-10 lead going into the halftime break.
Burke led the way for the Spartans in the first half, carrying the ball 12 times for 103 yards, including the three touchdown runs.
Case Western Reserve added to its lead with 7:23 left in the third quarter, when Cuda found Hurd with a 17-yard pass, extending the team's advantage to 38-10. Field goals of 25 yards with 1:49 to play in the third and 27 yards with 4:38 left in the game off the leg of senior kicker Ben Carniol, helped put the game well out of reach. Cannon's interception, his second of the season and eighth of his career, came in the end zone with 14:54 remaining in the fourth quarter, stopping a late Westminster scoring threat.
Burke's 160 yard effort on Saturday propelled him past 2,000 for his career, making him the eighth player in program history to reach the mark. He will enter next week's game 92 yards shy of his second-consecutive 1,000 yard season, and his 16 rushing touchdowns during the year match his career high, and are three shy of the school's single-season record.
The 41 points were the most allowed by the Westminster defense this season, and the most by the team overall since a 45-35 loss to Thomas More on October 1, 2016. The Spartans have now scored at least 40 points in four-straight games and six times overall this season.
Prior to the start of the game, the Spartans also recognized the team's graduating senior class, which included Aaron Aguilar, Myles Anthony, Andrew Banathy, Gage Blair, Jeffrie Brown Jr., Burke, Cody Calhoun, Cannon, Carniol, Cuda, Ryan DeMarinis, Chanan Demery, Mike Devereaux, DiFrancesco, Daniel Fabiniak, Alex Habeeb, Hurd, Lyon, Justin McMahon, Zech Medved, Ryan Merlau, Alex Nesvisky, Orsini, Andrew Rossman, Weston Salerno and Techman. Together, the group has gone 28-11 over the last four seasons, including a 22-8 mark in the PAC and a UAA Championship in 2016.