CLEVELAND – The Case Western Reserve University football team lost the inside track to a fifth University Athletic Association Championship in six years with a 10-7 setback versus Washington University-St. Louis on Seniors' Day at Case Field.
The Spartans (5-4 overall, 1-1 UAA) will need a win and a Bears (4-5, 2-0 UAA) loss next Saturday to earn a share of the league title.
In a game that saw little offense generated from either side, Washington-St. Louis held the Spartans to a season-low 184 total yards of offense and scored all 10 of its points in a span of 2:08 in the third quarter.
The Spartans got on the board first late in the opening period when senior quarterback Erik Olson (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) connected with senior wide receiver Vinny Bell (Parma Heights, Ohio/Valley Forge) for a 12-yard touchdown pass. Bell's first career score ended a six-play, 44-yard drive, and freshman Won Kun Park (Daejon, South Korea/Kimball Union Academy, N.H.) hit the extra point to make the score 7-0 with 1:42 remaining in the first quarter.
After each side saw several drives fizzle out, the Bears threatened to cut into the lead with 4:55 left in the first half. However, the Spartan defense held in its own territory and forced a 41-yard field goal that missed wide to the right.
The game went to halftime with the hosts ahead by a 7-0 score.
On their opening drive of the second half, the Bears drove deep into Spartan territory with a nine-play, 40-yard drive that ended in a 25-yard field goal by Alex Hallwachs at the 7:31 mark of the third quarter.
After forcing Case to a three-and-out, the Bear offense hit the biggest play of the game when quarterback Eric Daginella connected with wide out Tim Bartholomew for a 64-yard pass that put the visitors at the Spartan one yard line. One play later, Daginella rushed into the endzone to cap the four-play, 65-yard drive. Hallwach hit the point after, and the Bears led 10-7 with 5:23 remaining in the third.
Several possession changes then occurred before a botched snap on a Spartan punt set the Bears up with a first down at the home five with 10:41 left to play. However, the Spartan defense came up clutch once again and held Washington-St. Louis to a 23-yard field goal try that was blocked by senior linebacker Kevin Nossem (Munster, Ind./Munster) at the 6:02 mark.
Unfortunately, the Spartan offense couldn't drive out of its own end of the field on its following two possessions, and the Bears held on for the three-point win.
Statistically, sophomore running back Manny Sicre (Miami, Fla./Belen Jesuit Preparatory) rushed for a game-high 68 yards on 23 carries and added 38 yards receiving on four catches. On defense, senior linebackers Ryan Ferguson (Wheaton, Ill./St. Francis) and Wade Self (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich) tied for game-high honors with 12 tackles apiece.
Washington-St. Louis was led by Daginella's 196 yards passing—98 of which went to Bartholomew. Defensive tackle William Small totaled six tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
The Spartans wrap up the season on Saturday, November 10 versus rival Carnegie Mellon University (Pa.) in the 26th Annual Academic Bowl at 2:00 p.m. at Case Field. The game has also been designated as the Billy Deitmen Memorial Game with all proceeds going to benefit an endowment in celebration of former Spartan captain Billy Deitmen '11, who passed away unexpectedly at the age of 23 on October 18. All former Spartan teammates of Deitmen are invited to participate in a pregame ceremony/presentation.