Four different Spartans combined to rush for five touchdowns on Saturday night, as Case Western Reserve University put an end to Grove City College's nine-game winning streak with a 52-14 win over the Wolverines in its home-opening game at DiSanto Field in Cleveland, Ohio on Saturday night.
The win raises the Spartans' season record to 2-0, including a 1-0 mark in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. Grove City, whose nine-game winning streak dating back to last season was the second-longest active streak among all NCAA Division III teams entering the contest, dropped to 2-1 on the year with a 1-1 league record.
Case Western Reserve's balanced rushing attack, which accumulated 169 yards on the ground, was led by the duo of junior Zach Hall, who carried the ball 14 times for 66 yards and a touchdown, and sophomore Donald Day III, who ran it 11 times for 57 yards and a pair of scores. Sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton completed 17-of-22 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown, while also rushing for a score in the game. Senior wide receiver Mario Robaina caught a team-high five passes for 66 yards in the game.
The Spartans defense held Grove City's rushing attack, which averaged 280 yards through their first two games, to just 121 in the contest, including just 67 for Wesley Schools, who averaged 175 yards over the first two contests of the year. CWRU outgained the Wolverines by a final margin of 381-284.
Junior linebacker Brian Victor forced a pair of fumbles and finished tied with junior linebacker Skyler Wadas with a team-high eight tackles. Victory also notched a quarterback hurry in Saturday's game.
The Spartans' offense started the game with a long drive, going 86 yards downfield on 10 plays to take a 7-0 lead with 9:57 to play in the opening period. Hall capped off the drive with a five-yard score, his first of the season. Grove City would respond with a touchdown on their opening drive of the game, knotting the score at 7-7 with 5:35 remaining in the first.
Momentum shifted in the Spartans' favor during the second quarter, starting on the first play of the quarter. Victor forced a fumble at the Grove City 38-yard line that was recovered by junior linebacker Travis Johnston and returned for a touchdown to put CWRU back in front with 14:50 left in the half. Later in the quarter, the Spartans went on another long drive, going 85 yards in 10 plays and scoring on a 35-yard pass from Saxton to junior wide receiver Chase Witte to extend the lead to 21-7 with 8:20 to play in the stanza, and a one-yard run into the end zone by Day III with 40 seconds left in the half pushed the Spartans' advantage to 35-7 by the break.
The Spartans totaled 295 yards of offense in the opening half and were six-for-six on third down conversions.
Case Western Reserve expanded its lead in the third quarter with rushing touchdowns from Saxton and Day III. Saxton forced his in on a quarterback sneak from the goal line, while Day III scored from six yards out on the first play after a 29-yard interception return by senior cornerback Kevin Chrissis, one of four turnovers forced by the Spartan defense on Saturday. Junior linebacker Joshua Smith blocked a punt early in the fourth quarter (the Spartans' second in as many games this season), setting up a one-yard touchdown run by junior Kyle Turcovsky with 14:15 to play, and a 28-yard field goal by sophomore Robertson Albrecht with just over a minute left in the game capped off the Spartans' scoring.
The Spartans will be back on the road next Saturday, September 28, when the team travels to Greenville, Pennsylvania for a 7:00 p.m. matchup at Thiel College.