Spartans Begin Defense of UAA Championship with 28-15 Win at Rival Chicago

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CHICAGO – The Case Western Reserve University football team scored 21 unanswered points during a four-minute stretch of the second quarter en route to a 28-15 victory at University Athletic Association rival University of Chicago on Saturday afternoon at Stagg Field.

The Spartans, winners of four of the last five league titles, improve to 5-3 overall and 1-0 in the Association. The Maroons drop to 4-4 overall and 0-1 in the UAA.

The Spartans' opening possession resulted in a punt in Chicago territory, and the Maroon offense followed with a 13-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by fullback Tom Brutofsky at the 6:32 mark of the first quarter. The extra point attempt by Ben Cheaney was blocked by junior safety Jacob LaFleur (Hilliard, Ohio/St. Charles Preparatory) and the score remained 6-0.

Case then drove 12 plays and 68 yards into the redzone, but the Maroons put a halt to the drive with an interception by cornerback Vincent Beltrano in his own endzone. However, the Spartan defense would step up when senior cornerback Cary Dieter (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour) recorded his first career interception at the Chicago 22-yardline with 14:51 left in the second quarter.

The Spartan offense then took over and reached the five yard line with a 17-yard run by sophomore quarterback Billy Beecher (Palmyra, Pa./Palymra Area). Two plays later, senior QB Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) hit freshman wide receiver Bryan Erb (Charlotte, N.C./Charlotte Country Day) for a two-yard TD pass. Freshman kicker Won Kun Park (Daejon, South Korea/Kimball Union Academy, N.H.) hit the extra point, and the Spartans led 7-6 at the 13:29 mark.

Special teams then came into play on the next drive as a fake punt attempt by Chicago was sniffed out at the Chicago 10 by senior linebackers Wade Self (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) and Kevin Nossem (Munster, Ind./Munster) along with freshman safety Scott Suren (Brunswick, Ohio/Brunswick).

Several plays later, Beecher found freshman fullback Adam Hochman (Austin, Texas/Anderson) for a 10-yard TD pass. Park hit the PAT to make the score 14-6 with 11:03 left in the second.

The next Chicago possession also resulted in a special teams mishap, and a botched snap on the punt gave the Spartans possession at the Maroon 31. Two plays later, Beecher rushed into the endzone from 11 yards out. Park's third PAT made the score 21-6 with 9:30 left before half.

After several possession changes, the Spartans appeared to increase their advantage in the final minutes of the half, but a penalty for a block in the back negated a would be 23-yard TD pass from Olson to sophomore WR Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley). Still, the visitors went into the locker room with a 21-6 lead.

Chicago's opening drive of the second covered 66 yards on 10 plays, but a Spartan defensive stand at the goal line forced the Maroons to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Jeff Sauer with 8:53 remaining in the third quarter.

After a punt from each side, the Spartans put the game away with a six-play, 50-yard drive that culminated in an eight-yard TD run by sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory). Park hit his fourth PAT, and the Spartans led 28-9 with 1:42 left in the third. The drive was keyed by a 35-yard pass from Olson to senior WR Vinny Bell (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge) on a 2nd-and-23 play.

Chicago scored once more late in the fourth when QB Vincent Cortina hit tight end Brandon Meckelberg for a 31-yard TD pass with just 54 seconds left to play. Spartan senior defensive end Adam Watson (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) recorded his third block of the season on the PAT to keep the score at 28-15.

Individually, Beecher completed 5-of-6 passes for 29 yards and a score, while also rushing nine times for 39 yards and a TD. Olson was 7-of-13 for 85 yards and a TD, while Sicre led the ground attack with 83 yards on 18 carries. Bell finished with four receptions and a team-high 63 yards.

Defensively, Self posted a game-high 12 tackles with a forced fumble after missing last week's game due to injury. Nossem, Watson and senior linebacker Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) all totaled seven stops, while Watson recorded game-highs with 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Chicago was led by Cortina with 261 yards passing on 24-of-43, and Meckelberg with seven catches for 141 yards. Linebacker Ben Wade finished with 10 tackles and a sack.

The Spartans continue defense of their UAA title at home next Saturday, November 3 versus Washington University-St. Louis at 12:00 p.m. at Case Field.

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