PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Sophomore running back Kenny Riordan (Spring Grove, Ill./Richmond-Burton) rushed for a career-high 108 yards with two touchdowns as the Case Western Reserve University football team defeated host Carnegie Mellon University in the 26th Annual Academic Bowl on Saturday at Gesling Stadium. The Spartans' eighth-straight victory clinches a fourth University Athletic Association Championship in five seasons and gives the team a shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA Playoffs.
The Spartans finish the regular season at 9-1 overall and a perfect 3-0 in the UAA. Carnegie Mellon ends its campaign at 5-5 and 1-2 in the UAA.
The NCAA Playoff Selection Show is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 13 on NCAA.com. The Spartans have made three national appearances in the past four seasons.
Riordan's game-high 108 yards came on 16 carries and included a season-long 56-yard TD. Junior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) completed 13-of-18 passes for 129 yards and two scores. Freshman running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Prep) added 76 yards on 17 carries with a TD, while senior wide receiver Bryan Metlesitz (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton) caught six passes for 61 yards and two TDs.
Defensively, junior linebackers Wade Self (Hawthorn Hills, Ill./Lake Zurich) and Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) totaled 15 and 13 tackles, respectively. Junior end Adam Watson (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) recorded eight tackles with 2.5 sacks, while senior tackle Dale English (Middleburg Heights, Ohio/Holy Name) added two sacks, a fumble recovery and his second career interception.
The Tartans got on the board quickly on the opening drive when Chris Garcia ran into the endzone from two yards out to cap a five-play, 56-yard drive at the 12:58 mark. Dylan Munoz hit the extra point to make the score 7-0.
The Spartans came right back on the ensuing possession with a four-play, 73-yard drive that culminated in the 56-yard dash by Riordan. Senior placekicker Daniel Vasil (Erie, Pa./McDowell) hit the point after to cap a four-play, 73-yard drive with 11:39 left in the quarter.
Case struck again at the 5:26 mark of the quarter when Sicre found the endzone from seven yards out to cap a 10-play, 63-yard drive. Vasil's PAT put the Spartans ahead 14-7.
The Spartans' final possession of the quarter ended with another Riordan TD – an 11-yarder – capping a 54-yard drive at 1:43. Vasil's third PAT made the score 21-7 and that lead held through halftime.
CMU cut into its deficit with a 33-yard Munoz field goal at 11:04 of the third quarter – the score was set up by botched snap on a Spartan punt that gave the Tartans possession at the Case 20 yard line. Case junior safety Dan Calabrese (Concord, Ohio/Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin) returned the ensuing kickoff 50 yards to give the Spartans possession at the CMU 40. Eleven plays and 35 yards later, Vasil booted a 22-yard field goal to make the score 24-10 with 7:07 left in the third.
The Spartan defense struck on the next possession as senior linebacker Jacob Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio/Princeton) intercepted a CMU pass at the hosts' 34. Olson then hooked up six plays later with Metlesitz for a 21-yard TD pass. Vasil's PAT made the score 31-10 with 2:58 left in the quarter.
The two sides traded TDs in the fourth quarter with Metlesitz grabbing another for the Spartans.