On a rain-soaked Saturday afternoon in Cleveland, Ohio, the #21/17 Case Western Reserve University football team prevailed over Geneva College 30-23 at DiSanto Field. After leading 24-7 at the half, the Spartans (7-0, 6-0 PAC) held on for the victory to remain undefeated on the season and in first place in the Presidents' Athletic Conference. The Golden Tornadoes drop to 3-5 on the season and 3-4 in the PAC.
With a two-game lead in the loss column and three games left in the season, Case Western Reserve can claim at least a share of the PAC title with a win next week at home over Bethany College.
Sophomore quarterback Drew Saxton threw for three touchdowns and three interceptions and completed 18 of his 30 passes for 237 yards to lead the offensive attack, despite the poor conditions. Junior wide receiver Colt Morgan was Saxton's primary target, catching 10 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. It was Morgan's fourth game of at least 100 yards receiving in the last five contests. The Spartans' defense, led by junior linebacker Joshua Smith with 14 tackles, a forced fumble, and an interception, forced two Geneva fumbles and three interceptions. Junior linebacker Skyler Wadas added 11 tackles, and senior linebacker Travis Johnston had 10 tackles and an interception.
Geneva started the scoring on the second play from scrimmage. First-year running back Isaac Gibbs rushed up the middle and coasted 71 yards for a touchdown to put the Golden Tornadoes up 7-0 in the first quarter.
The Spartans then scored 24 unanswered points to take a 17-point lead into halftime. On their first drive of the game, Saxton evaded pressure and threw on the run to first-year wide receiver Michael Wojkowski in the end zone for a 38-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown, Wojkowski's second of the season, tied the score at seven with under 11 minutes to play in the first quarter.
With the Golden Tornadoes driving down the field, first-year defensive back Gabe Doree came up with his first career interception. Doree returned the ball 43 yards to give the Spartans a short field on their next possession.
On the following play, Case Western Reserve took the lead on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Saxton to Morgan. Saxton stood in the pocket and found Morgan for the 10th time this season to put the Spartans ahead 14-7 with under three minutes to go in the first quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out, CWRU added to its lead with an eight-play, 73-yard drive. Saxton threw for his third touchdown of the day, finding junior wide receiver Chase Witte across the middle in the red zone. Witte ran the rest of the way for a 29-yard touchdown, giving the Spartans a 21-7 lead with just under 12 minutes to go in the first half. It was Witte's fourth touchdown of the season. Saxton was 4-for-5 on the drive, with two completions over 20 yards.
The Spartans stuffed the Golden Tornadoes on fourth down on the following drive, with senior defensive end Cameron Brown and junior linebacker Michael Amadio stopping the Geneva running back for no gain. CWRU capitalized, scoring on its fourth consecutive drive on a 35-yard field goal from second-year kicker Robertson Albrecht. The field goal put the Spartans up 24-7 with over six minutes left in the half.
The Spartan defense forced another turnover on its first drive of the second half. Senior defensive back Kevin Chrissis cut in front of a receiver and intercepted a pass, his third pick of the season.
The CWRU offense capitalized on the mistake and scored a touchdown to extend the lead. Junior defensive back Mason Gee-Montgomery ran for a four-yard touchdown, his second of the season. The ensuing extra point was blocked and returned for two points by sophomore defensive back Ryan Signorella resulting in a 30-9 lead for the Spartans.
Geneva cut the lead to 14 with a four-yard touchdown run from first-year running back Ricky Pitrelli with just over three minutes to go in the third quarter. The Golden Tornadoes drove 72 yards on 10 plays in just over five minutes.
After the Golden Tornadoes forced a punt, they cut into the deficit again with a three-yard touchdown run by junior running back Frankie Centofanti. Geneva drove 60 yards on nine plays again. With just under 11 minutes to play, the Spartans led just 30-23.
With the rain picking up late in the fourth quarter, the Spartan defense stopped the Golden Tornadoes three times to secure the victory. First, they held the Golden Tornadoes to just two yards and forced a punt. Then, following a Spartan turnover, the defense again held with Geneva losing one yard in four plays. Case Western Reserve could not achieve a first down and punted away with under two minutes to play.
On the first play of the following drive, the Spartan defense intercepted the Geneva quarterback for the third time on the day. Smith sealed the win with his first interception this season.
Next week, the Spartans host Bethany College (3-4, 3-3 PAC) in their final home game of the season. The team will honor 17 seniors in a special Senior Day ceremony before the game. Kickoff from DiSanto Field is at 2 p.m.