CWRU Spartans Efficiently Dominate in Italy
The Case Western Reserve University Spartans started fast and decisively sprinting to a 28-0 first quarter lead versus the Milano Rhinos then cruised to a 41-6 victory in Limbiate, Italy just north of Milan. The game was shortened as a thunderstorm struck equally decisively early in the 4th quarter with the Spartans threatening to score inside the Rhinos 10-yard line. The international friendly was a rematch of two clubs that met in 2015.
The Rhinos, who had recently won four games in a row to vault into playoff position in the Italian Football League, were not able to handle the precision and speed of the Spartans who scored on every possession in the first half and added a defensive ‘pick-6’ as well.
After receiving the opening kick-off, the Spartans were in the end zone in two plays as Sam Jenkins (Highland HS, Medina OH) took the hand-off, broke a tackle in linebacker territory then out-sprinted the Rhinos defense to the end zone. Conner Hall (Blue Valley West HS, Overland Park KS) added the first of five extra-points and the Spartans bolted to a 7-0 lead.
The CWRU defense was dominating throughout the game constantly pressuring the Rhinos quarterback, Kevin Ellison a former player from Georgia Southern University. After the Spartan defense produced the first of many ‘3-and-outs’, their offense responded. On their second drive, quarterback Ryan Coolidge (St. Ignatius Prep, Chicago IL) ran for 42-yards, to inside the Rhinos 10-yard line. Two plays later Coolidge delivered a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Rabah (Archbishop Moeller HS, Cincinnati OH) and the Spartans staked a 14-0 lead.
Another ‘3-and-out’ had the Spartan offensive attack back on this field and with the Spartan offensive line taking charge this time it was Zach Hall (New Albany HS, New Albany OH) turning in a big 35 yard run to the 2-yard line before going in from that distance for the 21-0 lead.
On the next defensive series the Spartan defense got in on the scoring party as Cooper Tulloch (Boca Raton Community HS, Baco Raton FL) instinctively jumped the flat pass for a CWRU interception that went to the Milan team’s end zone putting Case up 28-0.
On the ensuing drive at the end of the 1st quarter the Rhinos took advantage of a favorable kick-off return and pass interference call that move the ball past mid-field. The Rhinos talented and elusive quarterback escaped the CWRU pass rush and floated a slightly under-thrown pass that ended up in the arms of a Rhinos receiver, who eluded some Spartan defenders inside the 10-yard line and put some points on the board for the host Italian team. The two-point conversion play failed and the score ended in the first quarter with the Spartans leading at 28-6.
In the second quarter the offensive efficiency continued as in between another forced punt by the Case Western defense the offense produced drives that ended with touchdowns. On their first drive of the new stanza, Julian Kinard (Damascus HS, Damascus MD) delivered a 7-yard TD pass to Rabah, his second touchdown reception of the game. Moments later on the subsequent drive, Peter Hontas (Jesuit HS, New Orleans LA) threw for a big 26-yard reception to Colton Morgan (Wooster HS, Wooster OH) then capped the drive off with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Aguilar (Orange HS, Orange CA) to push the advantage to 41-6.
In the second half, with threatening weather on the horizon a running clock was implemented. On their first drive the Spartans efficiently drove to the Rhinos 10-yard line, but after an infraction pushing the Spartans back the Italian defense rose up with an interception near the goal line and a return that got the ball out of danger. After surrendering a 1st down the Spartans defense forced another punt. The Spartan offense again took over but early in the fourth quarter with the CWRU offense deep in Rhinos territory rain and threatening lightening caused a postponement that turned into a finalization of the contest.
Following their dominating 41-6 victory over the Milano Rhinos, the Spartans are to travel north into Switzerland for 5-nights of adventure and exploration in the areas of Lucerne, Interlaken, Bern and Zurich. The Rhinos, possessors of a 4-game win streak, have a big contest hosting the Bolzano Giants in a game that has playoff implications for the top-level of American football in the Italian Football League.
The CWRU Football Spartans returns to the USA on Saturday, May 19.