CLEVELAND, Ohio - The Wittenberg Tigers put together two long first-half scoring drives and then leaned on their defense to carry them the rest of the way to a 14-10 victory over Case Western Reserve University.
The win, in the first game between Wittenberg and Case Western since the Spartans left the North Coast Athletic Conference in 2000, was the Tigers' ninth in 10 all-time meetings with Case Western. More importantly, it moved the Tigers to 4-0 on the 2012 season, despite playing three games in their first four on the road.
Case Western, which actually outgained Wittenberg 339-263 in the game, lost for the third straight time to fall to 2-3 overall on the season. The Spartans had not lost three in a row since 2006.
Wittenberg, which came into the game averaging 459 yards of total offense, was held to just 45 yards in six second half possessions. However, the Tiger defense was up to the task, holding Case Western to three points while forcing two turnovers and then making stops on fourth in Case Western's last two possessions.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game was turned in by senior defensive lineman Justin Bartlett (Washington, Pa./McGuffey) and junior linebacker Spencer Leno (Massillon, Ohio/Massillon), who led both teams with a career-best 17 tackles in the game. They teamed up to throw Case Western running back Manny Sicre for a loss of one yard at the Wittenberg 20-yard-line with 2:58 remaining in the game and the Tigers clinging to a four-point lead.
The Tigers opened the scoring with a six-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Reed Florence (South Charleston, Ohio/Southeastern). His score at the 7:44 mark of the first quarter capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive.
After Case Western tied the game at 7:34 of the second quarter, the Tigers moved back in front on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Florence to junior Brendon Cunningham (Kettering, Ohio/Fairmont) with 1:50 left in the first half to cap Wittenberg's most efficient drive of the game that covered 74 yards in just seven plays and 1:02 off the clock.
Florence finished with 181 yards passing and 36 yards rushing. Most importantly, he did not take a sack and did not throw an interception in the game, Cunningham finished with 62 yards on six receptions and sophomore tailback Will Stocker (Cincinnati, Ohio/Turpin) added 49 yards on the ground on 16 carries.
In addition to Leno's sterling performance, two other Tigers finished in double figures for tackles. Junior linebacker Kyle Sanning (Fairborn, Ohio/Tecumseh) added a career-high 14 stops to go along with a forced fumble and junior linebacker Evan Killilea (Columbus, Ohio/DeSales) was outstanding as well with 13 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack. He shared that sack with junior defensive lineman Josh Montgomery (Reynoldsburg, Ohio/Reynoldsburg), who was credited with one and half sacks in the game.