Gameday Preview: Case vs. Washington

compiled from staff reports

THE MATCHUP
The Case Western Reserve University football team continues its defense of its University Athletic Association title and plays at home for the first time in nearly a month when it hosts rival Washington University for Seniors’ Day on Saturday, Nov. 3 at noon at Case Field. Winners of four of the past five league titles, the Spartans opened conference play last Saturday, Oct. 27 with a 28-15 victory at the University of Chicago. Washington also started league action with a 15-3 win at Carnegie Mellon University. The winner of the Case vs. Washington game is guaranteed at least a share of the 2012 UAA Championship.

SENIORS’ DAY/BILLY DEITMEN MEMORIAL GAME
Originally scheduled for the season finale on November 10, Seniors’ Day has been moved to this Saturday’s game versus Washington-St. Louis. Case has also designated the Nov. 10 game versus Carnegie Mellon as the Billy Deitmen Memorial Game with all proceeds going to benefit an endowment in celebration of former Spartan captain Billy Deitmen ’11, who died unexpectedly at the age of 23 on Oct. 18.

SERIES NOTES
The young gridiron history between the Spartans and Bears dates back only to 1985. Washington holds a 17-9 lead in the all-time series, but the Spartans have won four of the last five meetings, including a 16-6 triumph in St. Louis last season. Prior to Case winning four of five, the Bears captured the previous 15 meetings from 1992-2006. The Spartans won the first three matchups from 1985-88, including a 17-10 win at home in the inaugural game of the series.

LAST MEETING
The Spartans improved to 8-1 overall and 2-0 in the UAA with a 16-6 victory on Nov. 5, 2011 in St. Louis. Current sophomore running back Manny Sicre rushed for a team-high 92 yards on 19 carries, while then senior kicker Daniel Vasil hit a career-high three field goals, including a career-best 43-yarder. Current Washington senior quarterback Dan Burkett threw for 191 yards, 105 of which went to then senior wide out Easton Knott.

SCOUTING THE SPARTANS
Through eight games, the Spartans average 23 points, 142.6 yards rushing, 194.9 yards passing and 337.5 total yards. Case opponents average 16.4 points per game, 83.1 yards rushing, 225.6 yards passing and 308.7 total yards per game. The Spartans have a -9 turnover ratio after leading the UAA at +12 last season.

SPARTAN LEADERS
Offensively, senior quarterback Erik Olson has completed 113-of-194 passes (58.2 percent) for 1429 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Sophomore running back Manny Sicre has a team-high 550 yards rushing on 142 carries (3.9 ypc) with four touchdowns. Sicre also has 21 receptions for 275 yards and two scores. Sophomore wide receiver Sean Lapcevic is tied for the UAA lead with 33 receptions and has 445 yards (13.5 ypc) and three TDs. Freshman WR Bryan Erb has 20 receptions for 215 yards (10.8 ypc) and leads the team with four receiving scores.

Defensively, senior outside linebacker Ryan Ferguson has recorded a UAA-high 88 tackles with a forced fumble, an interception and five pass break-ups. Senior linebacker Kevin Nossem has 73 tackles, a team-high two forced fumbles and one pass break-up. Senior end Adam Watson has 49 tackles, including a team-high nine tackles for loss, with team-bests of 5.5 sacks and three blocked kicks. Senior cornerback Cary Dieter  has an interception and is tied with senior safety Dan Calabrese with seven break-ups.

SCOUTING THE BEARS
Through eight games, the Bears average 18.0 points, 95.0 yards rushing, 168.1 yards passing and 263.1 total yards. Washington opponents average 20.5 ppg, 173.0 yards rushing, 166.2 yards passing and 339.2 total yards per game. The Bears have a -1 turnover ratio.

BEAR LEADERS
Junior QB Eric Daginella has completed 54-of-106 (50.9 percent) for 684 yards with five TDs and three INTs. Senior RB Chris Castelluccio has a team-high 501 yards on 152 (3.3 ypc) with three TDs. Senior WR Drew Sexton has team highs of 31 receptions and 417 yards (13.5 ypc) with two TDs. Sophomore WR Ryan Lubatkin has 14 catches for 164 yards (11.7 ypc) with a team-high three TDs.

Defensively, sophomore LB Fade Oluokun has a team-high 54 tackles with four break-ups. Senior DT William Small has 40 stops with a team-high 6.5 for loss and three sacks. Junior DB Andrew Skalman leads the team with four INTs.

CATCHING ON
Senior wide receiver Vinny Bell, who was a two-time All-American forward for the Spartan soccer team in 2010 and 2011, recorded a career-high four receptions for 63 yards at Chicago with a key 35-yard reception on a 2nd-and-23 play.

TURNOVER TURNAROUND
The Spartans maintained a turnover ratio of -10 through the first five games of the season. Since then, the Spartans are +1 over the last three games.

RUN STUFFERS
The Spartans rank 13th in Division III in rush defense, allowing just 83 yards per game. The team finished last season with the nation’s seventh-best rush defense (75.7 ypg) and has only allowed one 100-yard rusher in the last 19 games.

53
The number of wins for Case since the beginning of the 2007 season. The Spartans are 53-9 overall and 28-2 on the road during that span.