EUREKA, Ill. – Sophomore linebacker Chris Friend (Washington, Ill./Washington) collected a season-high 16 tackles, while classmate quarterback Jed Vance (Havana, Ill./Havana) tossed a pair of touchdown passes, but the Westminster Blue Jays used a strong second half to spoil Eureka's Homecoming, 26-18, Saturday afternoon at McKinzie Field.
Freshman wide receiver Josh Mead (Tampico, Ill./Bureau Valley) caught his first career touchdown reception to the put the Red Devils up early, 7-0, scoring the only points of the first quarter.
Eureka junior Tyler Winders (Pekin, Ill./Pekin) increased the Red Devils' lead midway through the second half with a 23 yard field goal, moving the EC advantage to 10-0 with 5:49 remaining until halftime. The made field goal moved Winders into second place in school history with 14 career field goals.
After exchanging punts, the Blue Jays engineered a 6-play, 50-yard drive capped by a Ketrick Large 1-yard plunge to cut the deficit to 10-7.
With Vance under center, Eureka would put together a scoring series of their own on the ensuing possession, marching the field on 4-plays, covering 65-yards that ended with Vance finding sophomore wide receiver Austin Zirkle (Gilman, Ill./Iroquois West) down the sideline for a 41-yard touchdown reception. Eureka took a 16-7 lead into the break.
Neither team were able to get much going offensively on their first two series to begin the second half, with the visitor's punting twice and Eureka tossing an interception and losing a fumble. The second turnover proved costly for the host, as running back Latif Adams took a handoff into the endzone from three yards out to slice the EC lead to 16-13. The point-after attempt was faked, holder Ian Pletenik rolled out and tossed the ball right into the hands of senior linebacker Ty Cowin (Astoria, Ill./Astoria). Cowin took the interception all the way back for a 2-point score.
Adams found the endzone twice more, once in the third quarter and early in the fourth, scoring to go-ahead touchdown and adding an insurance score to put the Blue Jays up for good, 26-18.
Vance completed nine passes for 160 yards, including two touchdowns. His first touchdown completion was the first of his collegiate career.
Freshman running back LeAnthony Reasnover (Momence, Ill./Momence) finished the day with 67 yards on the ground on 19 attempts. Westminster's Adams netted 116 yards on 30 attempts and three scores.
Mead (five catches for 69 yards) and Zirkle (three catches for 57 yards) paced the Red Devils' receiving core.
Friend's total tackles is the most by a Red Devils since Austin Blair had 15 stops against Knox last season on Sept. 6. Friend also finished the day with a forced fumble that was recovered by Eureka.
Eureka will take to the road for the first time this month, traveling to Mount Pleasant, Iowa for a conference showdown next Saturday. Kickoff of the contest against the Iowa Wesleyan Tigers is scheduled for 1 p.m.