Cleveland, Ohio, November 6, 2010 – Senior running back Jim O'Brien carried the ball 28 times for a season-high 150 yards with a pair of touchdowns to lead the Washington University in St. Louis football team to a 14-13 victory at Case Western Reserve University on Saturday afternoon in Cleveland, Ohio.
With the win Washington University improves to 7-2 overall and 2-0 in the University Athletic Association (UAA), matching its best start to a season since 2001, when the Bears also posted a 7-2 mark. The Red and Green snapped a three-game losing streak to Case Western and the Spartans dropped their first home game since Oct. 14, 2006.
With 150 yards on the ground, Jim O'Brien increased his career total to 2,454 yards, passing Todd Hannum to move into second-place on the Washington University all-time rushing list. He also tied Mike Gallo for ninth on the Bears' all-time scoring list with 132 points. His 150 yards on Saturday afternoon were the most since a 163-yard performance against the University of Chicago on Nov. 7, 2009.
While O'Brien carried the load offensively, it was a big play from senior defensive back Brandon Brown that helped the Bears hang on for the one-point win. Case used 16-plays to drive to march all the way down to the Washington University three-yard line, where the Spartans were forced to attempt a 20-yard field goal.
A low snap delayed Sam Coffey's attempt and Brown came through the defensive line to block down the short attempt and preserve the Bears' lead. Coffey had one more attempt to win the game in the closing moments of the fourth, but his 43-yard attempt was partially blocked by sophomore Daniel Sufranski and the Bears escaped with the narrow win.
Washington University improved its winning streak to six-straight games, the Bears' longest such streak since the 2005-06 seasons.
Washington University will close out the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 13, when it faces the University of Chicago in Chicago, Ill. The Maroons defeated Carnegie Mellon University on Saturday, so the winner of next Saturday's contest between the Bears and the Maroons will decide the 2010 UAA title. Kickoff is set for Noon (CT), at Stagg Field
A penalty for roughing the kicker extended Case Western Reserve's opening drive and the Spartans took advantage of the extra opportunity to grab an early 3-0 lead. Case advanced the ball all the way to the Bears' four-yard line, but senior Kyle Huber stuffed Trevor LaBarge's third-down rushing attempt and the Spartans settled for a field goal.
Washington University was forced to punt on its first drive, but junior Austin Morman's kick was downed inside of the Case one-yard line. Three plays later, freshman Scott O'Brien stripped Zach Homyk of the ball following a third-down completion and the Bears recovered the football at the Spartans' 15-yard line. The second play of the ensuing drive resulted in Jim O'Brien's sixth rushing touchdown of the season, a 15-yarder to give the Red and Green a 7-3 lead.
The lead was short lived, with Case Western Reserve needing just 2:29 to march down the field and regain the lead. Spartan senior quarterback Joey Baum found Homyk in the right corner of the end zone to cap off a six-play, 64-yard drive, Homyk's UAA-leading 10th receiving touchdown of the year.
Sam Coffey added a 44-yard field goal, one-yard shy of his career long, to give the Spartans a 13-7 lead midway through the second quarter, and the score remained 13-7 as the game headed into the half.
Case Western Reserve held a slim 146-131 lead in total offensive yards in the first half, netting 96 through the air and 50 on the ground. Trevor LaBarge gained 54 yards on the ground on 11 carries to lead the Spartan ground attack, and Jim O'Brien carred the ball 12 times for 53 yards and one score.
Washington U. used special teams play to regain the momentum halfway through the third quarter. Freshman Mike Rademacher partially blocked a Dan Calabrese punt, giving the Bears a chance to start their next drive on the Case 46-yard line. A 14-yard completion from senior Steve Sherman to senior Tom Gulyas advanced the ball deep into Case territory and O'Brien did the rest from there.
A 19-yard Jim O'Brien scamper gave the Bears a first and goal opportunity at the three, and he capped off the drive with a three-yard score. Sophomore Eric Chalifour's extra point was good and the Bears took the lead for good at 14-13.
Sherman finished the game 13-for-23 passing for 112 yards and one interception. Junior linebacker Kyle Larkin led the Bears with 15 tackles, six solo and nine assisted, and one tackle for a loss. Morman punted eight times for an average of 38 yards, including a 60-yard boot.
Bear Notebook: Washington University leads the all-time series with Case Western Reserve University, 17-8 … Brown made his 39th-consecutive start at defensive back, while junior Joe Rhein made his 29th-straight start at center.