MEADVILLE, Pa. – Junior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) threw the game-winning three-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Bryan Metlesitz (North Royalton, Ohio/North Royalton) with 45 seconds remaining as the Case Western Reserve University football team rallied to defeat Allegheny College, 17-10, on a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon at Frank B. Fuhrer Field.
The Spartans improve to 3-1 overall and will play at home for the first time in a month versus Oberlin College next Saturday, October 8, at Case Field. With the loss, Allegheny falls to 2-3.
The Spartan defense totaled three sacks and held the Gators to just 150 yards of total offense in addition to forcing a key turnover deep in Gator territory with under a minute remaining.
Junior linebacker Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) recorded a team-high 10 tackles, while junior defensive end Adam Watson (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor) totaled eight stops and a sack. Junior safety Dan Calabrese (Concord, Ohio/Notre Dame-Cathedral Latin) forced the decisive fumble, which junior cornerback Cary Dieter (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour) recovered and returned to set up the winning score.
Offensively, sophomore running back Kenny Riordan (Spring Grove, Ill./Richmond-Burton) rushed for a game-high 86 yards on 17 carries. Olson completed 23-of-39 passes for a career-high 228 yards and two touchdowns.
The first quarter went scoreless despite several possessions deep into Allegheny territory for the Spartans. Case had the best scoring threat but missed a 23-yard field goal attempt with 2:59 left on the clock.
The second quarter was more of the same until Calabrese returned the sixth Allegheny punt of the half 63 yards to set the Spartans up at the Gator 28 yard line. Five plays later, senior kicker Daniel Vasil (Erie, Pa./McDowell) booted a 29-yard field goal with just two seconds remaining in the half.
In the second half, the Spartans took the opening drive 44 yards on 12 plays but were forced out on downs when a fade from Olson intended for Metlesitz was batted away in the Gator endzone, giving the hosts possession at their own 14 with 6:25 remaining in the third quarter.
The Spartans then forced the Gators to a three-and-out and a short punt set the offense up at the home 33. One play later, Olson connected on a 33-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Brian Rice (New Castle, Pa./New Castle). A missed extra point attempt left the score at 9-0 at the 5:18 mark. The TD was Rice's first career.
Two possessions later, Allegheny got in the game when Travis Wilkins intercepted a pass off of a deflection and scampered to the Spartan one yard line with 00:15 left in the quarter. One play later, Tim Werely rushed into the endzone to get the Gators on the board. The point after by Ryan Zipf made the score 9-7 at 00:11 of the third.
After a Spartan punt on the next possession, the Gators got a big play from their offense when quarterback Jordan Fowler snuck a pass past the outreached arm of senior linebacker Jacob Adams (Cincinnati, Ohio/Princeton) to find tight end Max Kauert, who bolted 46 yards to the Case one. The Spartan defense held strong and forced a field goal attempt when Adams stuffed running back Ben Perko at the goal line. Kicker Ryan Zipf then connected on a 20-yarder to make the score 10-9 with 8:51 left to play.
Several possessions later, the Spartans drove deep into Gator territory, but a turnover on downs gave Allegheny the ball at its own 12 with 1:21 remaining. Three plays later, Calabrese knocked the ball loose from running back Brian Tamburlin and Dieter picked it up and returned it to the five.
Olson then connected with Metlesitz for the TD on third and goal. Freshman wide receiver Sean Lapcevic (Presto, Pa./Chartiers Valley) added a two-point conversion on a pass from Olson to make the score 17-10.
On the ensuing drive, the Gators drove down to the Spartan 29, but a hailmary attempt was batted away as the Spartans held on for the victory.
Allegheny's defense was paced by Doug Williams with a game-high 13 tackles and a sack.