CWRU football drops season opener 54-14 vs JHU


Courtesy of CWRU Athletics

In a heated attempt to block the Blue Jays’ control of the football, second-year Dominic Sais (left) sacks first-year Carson Bourdo (right).

Gaurav Hardikar, Staff Writer

On Saturday, Sept. 3, the Case Western Reserve University football team welcomed the Johns Hopkins University Blue Jays for their first game of the season. 

With nearly 2,000 people in attendance, the energy at DiSanto field ran high as spectators anxiously awaited the kickoff. CWRU won the coin toss and deferred to JHU, who elected to receive the kickoff. First-year kicker Ben Barney booted the ball to the visitors to officially get the season underway. 

Though the Spartans were hoping to put on a show to start their fall campaign, it was clear the Blue Jays had other plans. Second-year wide receiver PJ Scales immediately turned on the jets, returning the kickoff for a damaging 60 yards and giving the JHU offense the ball just 27 yards from the CWRU endzone. Yet the Spartans defense held fast when it mattered, giving up 26 yards on 3 plays but forcing a turnover on downs with just a yard to go.

Pinned near their own endzone, the CWRU offense took the field and tried to get some breathing room. Though aided by a pass interference call that resulted in 13 penalty yards against JHU, the Spartans were forced to punt the ball, giving the Blue Jays midfield position. After a quick pass to fourth-year wide receiver Artie Collins, Blue Jays graduate student quarterback Ryan Stevens located Collins again for a 43-yard touchdown pass to put the visitors on the board. The Spartans had no answer and punted again, once more giving JHU decent field position.

The ground game also proved to be effective on the Blue Jays’ subsequent possession, as fourth-year running back Danny Wolf picked up 25 rushing yards and a touchdown on 3 carries, while third-year running back Spencer Uggla got away from the CWRU defense for a 20-yard carry on the 63-yard drive.

Down 14-0, the Spartans desperately needed a score to remain competitive. Though another pass interference penalty on JHU bought the Spartans another 13 yards, they only gained 49 yards on the drive, ending in a turnover on downs. 

The Blue Jays continued to slice through CWRU’s defense in the second quarter. The 74-yard drive was capped off by an 8-yard touchdown pass to run the score up to 20-0 in favor of JHU. 

The Spartan offense struggled on all fronts, going 3-and-out to allow the Blue Jays offense to get the ball back inside Spartan territory. The visitors continued to have their way with the short field and scored another touchdown in just three plays.

Now trailing 27-0, it was all or nothing for CWRU. Fourth-year running back Antonio Orsini offered fans a glimmer of hope with a 26-yard run, but the offense found itself in a fourth down situation yet again. The Spartans attempted another fourth down conversion but failed, turning the ball over on downs.

Wolf, Uggla and Collins continued to wreak havoc on the CWRU defense, collectively accounting for 63 of the 72 yards gained on the subsequent JHU possession. Stevens once again found Collins with a touchdown pass to bring the score up to 34-0. 

Though the Spartans came up empty on the next drive, Barney came up with an impressive 69-yard punt to pin the Blue Jays inside their own 10-yard line as the first half wound to a close.

As the Spartans made their way back onto the field for the second half, they only had one goal in mind: to score. Despite a nice 24-yard pass from fourth-year quarterback Drew Saxton to second-year wide receiver Ethan Dahlem, CWRU punted again. The Blue Jays offense reverted to their running game, picking up 59 rushing yards en route to another touchdown. 

Misery continued as JHU’s defense frustrated the home offense. Saxton was sacked on three straight plays before Barney punted the ball away, allowing the visitors to take the game into the final quarter. Showing no mercy, Stevens continued to sling the ball, finding first-year running back Geoff Schroeder for a 12-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 48.

Just when it seemed that a shutout was inevitable, the Spartan backups breathed life into the team with a 25-yard touchdown run from second-year quarterback Ian Kipp. The drive also featured a 17-yard run by third-year quarterback Alex Fromberg followed by a pass from Fromberg to second-year wide receiver Noah Coyne for 30 yards.

Finally admitting their opponent was beyond salvation, the Blue Jays subbed Stevens out for second-year quarterback Bay Harvey. JHU went 3-and-out and the Spartans took the punt in stride, putting together a lengthy, 70-yard scoring drive that ended with their second and final touchdown of the game. Kipp connected with third-year running back Dominic Wade on a 2-yard touchdown pass to control the damage taken.

Unfortunately, JHU had the final say, as Harvey threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to put the Blue Jays up 54-14 with less than a minute to go. The only exciting moment for CWRU fans on the possession was the blocked extra point attempt, which was returned by first-year defensive back Osi Chukwuocha.

The whistle finally blew, and the Blue Jays went home victorious, leaving the Spartans blown out and bewildered. The Spartans will have a chance to redeem themselves on Sept. 10 when they play the Waynesburg University Yellow Jackets on the road. The bout with the Yellow Jackets will be the Spartans’ final chance at tuning-up before conference play kicks off at home against Washington & Jefferson College on Sept. 17.