After nearly a quarter of a century, one of Cleveland’s biggest football rivalries was renewed last Saturday night at Case Field on Cleveland’s east side.
John Carroll University kicked off the 2010 football season just down the road. In the end, the host Case Western Reserve University Spartans outlasted JCU, 30-13.
John Carroll (0-1, 0-0 Ohio Athletic Conference) is coming off of their first losing campaign in over 20 years, while the Spartans (1-0, 0-0 University Athletic Association) have been somewhat of a national powerhouse over the last few seasons. With the win over JCU, the Spartans have now won 32 consecutive regular season games.
Case has established their aerial attack offense as one of the best in the country over the last few years, so the Blue Streaks pass defense was certainly going to be a focal point in this game.
“My assignment this week was simply to shut down (Zach) Homyk,” said senior defensive back Jonathan Cooley. “He was an All-American wide receiver last season and posed the biggest threat to us. Containing him was going to be key.”
Cooley led the unit with 15 tackles on the evening and did not allow Homyk to find the endzone.
However, the Spartans led early when senior quarterback Joey Baum connected with teammate Shaun Nicely on a 28-yard touchdown pass and catch to put the Spartans up 14-0 late in the first quarter. Case would outgain the JCU offense 184-42 in the opening period.
After adding a field goal on their next offensive possession, the Blue Streaks trailed 17-0 before they were able to get on the board.
Senior running back Teree’ Harris capped off a seven-play, 52-yard drive with a six-yard run, the first offensive touchdown of the season. JCU entered halftime trailing 17-7.
Things in the second half wouldn’t get much better, as the Blue Streaks struggled to find a rhythm on offense all night. In his first appearance as a starter, sophomore quarterback Michael Locke finished 11 of 24 for 111 yards and one interception while also rushing for 44 yards.
Unfortunately, Locke’s receiving core dropped six passes on the evening. He also had a 14-yard touchdown scamper late in the second half.
The Blue Streaks linebacking core is likely to be the stronghold of the defense this year. Juniors Emmett Lydon and C.J. Seitzinger combined for 21 tackles.
“As a unit, we feel we know each other a lot better this year,” said Lydon. “While last year was more of a learning process for us, we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses much better this time around. Our communication has really improved.”
If the Blue Streaks want to improve upon their 3-7 mark from a year ago, they are going to have to find a groove on offense. Although Locke is a young quarterback, he has two offensive linemen back from last year’s front that only allowed eight sacks all season long.
The Blue Streaks will have two weeks to prepare for another national powerhouse in the newly-named University of Mount Union.
The Purple Raiders handled the Blue Streaks – and the rest of the conference – without many problems last fall, and all preseason polls point to the Purple Raiders repeating as conference champions.
“It’s a good test for us early in the season,” Lydon said. “They obviously have a great program, so it’s an opportunity for us at this point in the year to see where we’re at.”
JCU will battle the Purple Raiders on Saturday, Sept. 18 at 1:30 p.m. at Don Shula Stadium.