EUREKA, Ill. -- Northwestern (Minn.) scored 20 points in the final 8:21 of Saturday's Upper Midwest Athletic Conference contest against Eureka to earn a 37-15 victory over the Red Devils at McKinzie Field. The decision secured the regular-season UMAC title and an automatic berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs for the Eagles.
Eureka finished its season 8-2 overall and 7-2 in the UMAC to tie for second place in the final league standings. The eight victories are the most by the Red Devils since 2013 and marks the fifth time in program history EC has reached the 8-win mark.
Northwestern led 10-0 midway through the second quarter thanks to a 16-yard touchdown strike from Corban Halbur to Gavin Welch and a 27-yard field goal from Ben Lyons.
The hosts pushed back with just 2:36 left before halftime when sophomore LeAnthony Reasnover (Momence, Ill./Momence H.S.) punctuated a 14-play, 89-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown rush. The point-after from senior Tyler Winders (Pekin, Ill./Pekin H.S.) slashed the EC deficit to 10-7.
The Eagles needed less than six minutes after halftime to push their lead back to two possessions. A 7-yard touchdown run from Payton Bowdry extended the UNW cushion to 17-7. UNW's BJ Foster made the score 23-7 at the 8:21 mark of the fourth quarter after his 3-yard touchdown plunge.
Facing the two-possession hole, the Red Devils' responded with a 72-yard scoring drive that took just 93 seconds. A 24-yard touchdown throw from Colton Johnson (Lewistown, Ill./Lewistown H.S.) to Brett Charlton (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.), followed by Johnson's successful 2-point run, brought the Red Devils within eight, 23-15, with just 4:29 to play.
The Red Devils promptly forced a UNW three-and-out, erasing only 27 seconds off the clock. Eureka was unable to convert on its ensuing series and the visitors pushed the lead to 30-15 when BJ Foster broke free for a 25-yard touchdown run.
The Eagles added insurance in the final minutes when Austin Stubbs returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown with just 43 seconds to play.
Johnson and freshman Drew Barth (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S.) combined to complete 27 passes for 327 yards. Charlton finished with 96 yards receiving.
Reasnover carried 16 times for 49 yards, finishing his sophomore campaign with 1,098 yards, fourth-most in single-season Eureka history.
Junior defensive Trever Zeibert (Monee, Ill./Peotone H.S.) dropped Halbur for a 6-yard loss in the third quarter to increase his season sack total to 11.5. That mark is the most sacks in a season by a Red Devil on record.