GAMEDAY PREVIEW: Case vs. Hiram

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Austin Sting/Observer

The Spartans will travel to Hiram College to take on the Terriers tomorrow.Hiram has not defeated Case since 2000.

Shinichi Inoue, Asst. Sports Editor

After escaping a narrow 26-23 victory against the Marietta Pioneers last Saturday, the Case Western Reserve University Spartans will travel to Hiram, Ohio to take on the Hiram Terriers tomorrow Sept. 8 at Charles A. Henry Field. With the victory against the Pioneers last weekend, the Spartans improved their overall record to 49-6 since the beginning of 2007 season. Representing the North Coast Athletic Conference, Hiram lost its season opener with a score of 28-0 on the road against Westminster College.

Old Foes, Same Gridiron
The Spartans and Terriers have clashed 22 times in their historic rivalry, with Hiram holding a slim 11-10-1 advantage in the all-time series record. The Spartans have won five consecutive meetings, including a 34-7 victory on Homecoming weekend last season. The Terriers’ last win came in 2000 with a score of 17-7 at Case Field. The first matchup between the two institutions was back in 1972 with a 13-0 shutout victory by the Spartans. The two programs met annually from 1972 to 1989 before a 10-year hiatus; however, the rivalry was renewed in 2000 before another hiatus between 2002 and 2007. Since then, the two have met annually.

At the Helm
Spartan head coach Greg Debeljak returns for his ninth season and has guided his team to 62-23 record along with four UAA Championships in five years, including three consecutive undefeated regular seasons from 2007-09 and back-to-back-to-back NCAA playoff berths. Since the beginning of the 2007 season, Case has posted an outstanding overall record of 49-6, earning Coach Debeljak and his staff the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year award four times (’07, ’08, ‘09, ’11).
Hiram is coached by Randy Moore, who has a 2-19 record in his third season with the Terriers. Moore served as Otterbein University defensive coordinator for seven seasons and helped lead the Cardinals to their first-ever NCAA playoff berth in 2008.

Spartan Players to Watch
Quarterback – Erik Olson: The senior completed 10 of 18 passes in the victory against Marietta. Last season he was named second-team All-UAA thanks to a tremendous season in which he collected 1571 yards and 11 touchdowns while completing 154 of 257 passes.
Running Back – Manny Sicre: The sophomore currently has 85 yards on 15 carries. Former UAA Rookie of the Year rushed for 638 yards on 154 carries – averaging 4.1 yards per carry – and totaled six touchdowns.
Running Back – Kenny Riordan: After a career game in which he earned 155 yards on 19 carries, Riordan looks to improve on his stats. Last year’s first-team All-UAA honoree rushed for 556 yards and had two touchdowns.

Terriers Players to Watch
Quarterback – Brendan Rehor: Rehor completed 21 of 29 passes for 132 yards, but had three interceptions. The senior returned to the gridiron this season after missing the entire 2011 season. Look for him to get better as he gets more playing time under his belt.
Wide Receiver – Bryan Greenwell: Last game against Westminster, Greenwell had a team-high six receptions for 49 yards. Last year, Greenwell played as the team’s backup quarterback.
Linebacker – Tyler Williams: The linebacker leads the squad and ranks tied for 11th in the nation with 15 tackles, including a pair of losses and a sack. Last year, he was seventh on the team with 56 tackles.

Prediction: Spartans 35 – Terriers 14
The Spartans will continue to rely heavily on their running combo of Sicre and Riordan, which will be too much for the Terriers to handle. The defense will step up this week and prevent a major rally like last week. However, watch for Terriers quarterback Rehor as he gets back into his flow after missing the entire last season.