“Let’s get it right this time,” were the words of UR football head coach Mark Kreydt summarizing the attitude his team needs to take after another frustrating loss at home this past Saturday, this time a 38-29 defeat at the hands of the Case Western Reserve University Spartans. “We played a competitive game against Case Western, but ultimately our goal is to win, not just be competitive. We keep searching for ways to play consistently enough to win football games and we need to step onto the field every week and say to ourselves ‘OK, let’s get it right this time.'”
The Yellowjackets were searching for consistency on Saturday against the Spartans. UR mounted an effective running game and some crucial defensive drive-stops in the second half, but the team’s youth and occasional lack of focus once again put the reins of victory just beyond reach.
UR’s first missed opportunity arrived early in the first quarter when Spartan quarterback Eli Grant attempted a pass to receiver Jacob Baker on a fourth-down play with two yards to go. The Yellowjacket defense tipped the pigskin for a near interception and turnover of downs, but the Spartans scrambled to make the catch, thereby keeping alive the offensive drive that soon after resulted in Case Western’s first touchdown.
The Spartans doubled their lead over the Yellowjackets only minutes later, capitalizing on a fumble by UR tailback senior John Breedy that set up an easy 12-yard pass from Grant to Baker for a second Spartan touchdown. Breedy displayed more than enough atonement for his sin, finishing the game with 124 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown that places him tenth for career yardage on the UR all-time rushing list.
Despite Breedy’s accomplishments, it was UR’s other tailback junior Gerard Hopkins that really set the tone for the Yellowjacket offense Saturday afternoon. Down 14-0, the Yellowjackets handed the ball to Hopkins who stepped up in a big way, pounding through the Spartan defense and rushing for 54 yards in an impressive 74 yard, 10 play drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run by Hopkins to put UR on the scoreboard. The PAT was kicked by junior Chris Johnston. “Gerard Hopkins really sparked us in the first quarter,” said Kreydt. “He set the tone for us. We were down 14-0 and he really stepped up and made it happen in a big way.”
Case Western increased their point total to 21 early in the second quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run by running back B. McDowell. The Yellowjackets responded without delay with a 2-yard touchdown run of their own, this time compliments of John Breedy. Breedy was assisted in the drive with a 15-yard pass from UR quarterback freshman Pat Manuel to receiver junior Brian Ferris. Ferris scored two TD’s and also reached a career milestone on Saturday, advancing to fourth place on the list of UR’s all-time receiving leaders.
The game of back and forth continued throughout the second quarter as Case Western’s touchdown pass from Grant to Thomas Penoyar was countered by a 9-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Ferris. The seesaw’s balance was broken on the last play of the first half when the Spartans eked out a quick 1-yard touchdown pass from Grant to David Kallevig to increase their lead over the Yellowjackets to 35-21 going into halftime. “Their ability to score right before the half was key for them [Case Western],” said Kreydt. “If we could have gone into halftime 28-21 we would have been doing ok.”
Case Western tacked on another three points to their lead with less than a minute remaining in the third quarter with a 28-yard field goal by Ian Jaquette to increase the point deficit to 38-21.
The Yellowjacket’s final score was the fruit of an exhausting drive by running-backs Hopkins and Breedy touched off with a 25-yard pass from Manuel to Ferris. Breedy rushed for a successful two point conversion, leaving the final score 38-29, Spartans.
“I thought we played well in spots,” remarked Kreydt. “Our point production increased and we saw some nice things in the running game. Defensively, we didn’t execute well in the first half but we made some adjustments and had some key drive stops in the second half.” Referring to next week’s season-ender versus Carnegie Mellon, Kreydt is excited about the players’ preparation. “We have a lot of people watching film and preparing as hard as they possibly can. This is a game we need to get excited about. I’d like nothing more than for the seniors in the program to be able to walk off the football field for the last time Saturday as winners.”