UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio – Freshman running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Prep) rushed for a game-high 172 yards in his collegiate debut and junior linebacker Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) returned both an interception and a fumble for touchdowns as the Case Western Reserve University football team opened the 2011 season with a 24-17 victory at local-rival John Carroll University on Saturday, September 3, at Don Shula Stadium.
The game will be televised via tape delay on SportsTime Ohio at 11:30 p.m. this evening.
The Spartan defense forced four turnovers and stopped the Blue Streaks at the 10-yard line with just 1:26 remaining to seal the victory. Senior linebacker Jacob Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio/Princeton) totaled 12 tackles while Ferguson and junior safety Dan Calabrese (Mentor, Ohio/Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin) each recorded nine.
Sicre's 172 yards came on just 16 carries (10.8 ypc) and included his first touchdown. Sophomore running back Kenny Riordan (Spring Grove, Ill./Richmond-Burton) totaled 79 yards on 15 carries and junior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) completed 11-of-18 passes for 95 yards in his Spartan debut.
John Carroll threatened early after an interception by D.J.Debick set the Streaks up at the Spartan 41. But five plays later, Spartan senior defensive end Richard Doolin (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) stuffed Devin O'Brien at the one yard line to force a turnover on downs.
A Spartan fumble on the ensuing play set the Blue Streaks up at the five, but the Case defense once again answered the call when Adams forced a fumble on the following play that was recovered by junior nose guard Collin Desens (Hopewell Junction, N.Y./Arlington).
Several possessions later, the Streaks broke the scoreless tie when running back DaQuan Grobsmith took a swing pass from quarterback Devin O'Brien and scampered 29 yards for a touchdown. Brad Marchese hit the extra point to make the score 7-0 with 15 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
The Spartans evened the score midway through the second quarter when Sicre took the opening play of the Spartans' drive and broke off a 75-yard touchdown run. The point after by senior Daniel Vasil (Erie, Pa./McDowell) made the score 7-7 with 8:27 left before half.
At the half, the Spartans had rushed for 140 yards on just 16 carries, but the Blue Streaks held a 17:41 to 12:19 lead in time of possession.
In the second stanza, Case took its opening drive 63 yards on 12 plays and moved ahead when Vasil lined a 24-yard field goal through the uprights to make the score 10-7 at the 9:34 mark.
Several possessions later, the Spartan defense came up big again when Ferguson intercepted an O'Brien pass and returned it 57 yards for a score. Vasil's PAT made the score 17-7 with 6:07 left in the third quarter.
JCU cut into its deficit with a Kresimir Ivkovic 26-yard field goal that capped a 10-play, 44-yard drive and brought the score to 17-10 with 2:15 remaining in the third quarter.
With JCU attempting to drive in the opening minute of the final quarter, Ferguson struck again, picking up a fumble forced by junior defensive back Brandon Flick (Butler, Pa./Knoch) and returning it 32 yards for a TD. Vasil's third PAT made the score 24-10 with 14:11 left to play.
The Blue Streaks refused to go away and took their next possession 60 yards on five plays and scored when O'Brien hooked up with WR Lane Robilotto for a 24-yard TD pass. Ivkovic hit the PAT to bring the score to 24-17with 12:15 remaining.
For the game, Grobsmith led the Blue Streak offense with 81 yards on 19 carries in addition to 72 receiving yards on seven receptions and a touchdown. Linebacker Emmett Lydon paced the defense with a game-high 14 tackles.
The Spartans open the home portion of their schedule next Saturday, Sept. 10 versus the University of Rochester (N.Y.) at 7:00 p.m. at Case Field.