EUREKA, Ill. -- Defense, special teams and a dominant rushing attack proved to be the difference for the Eureka College football team in a 48-6 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference throttling of Westminster, Saturday afternoon at a rain-soaked McKinzie Field. The victory, EC's largest since 1998, was the Red Devils' sixth homecoming win in the last seven seasons.
The final 42-point spread was Eureka's largest UMAC win ever and the largest margin of victory since blanking Greenville 49-0 at McKinzie Field on Oct. 17, 1998. The decision was also the Red Devils' biggest homecoming victory since a 60-13 Illini-Badger Football Conference triumph over Concordia (Ill.) on Oct. 7, 1995, as well as the largest margin of victory in 10 all-time meetings with Westminster.
The Red Devils left little doubt to the outcome of Saturday's bout, marching 70 yards on six plays in less than three minutes to snag a 7-0 lead on a 13-yard run by LeAnthony Reasnover (Momence, Ill./Momence H.S.). The drive was salvaged by a fake punt in which Tanner Kuhne (Princeton, Ill./Princeton H.S.) rolled to his right on 4th-and-1 for a 43-yard gain to the Westminster 18.
A quick Westminster three-and-out set the stage for EC's next score, a 62-yard catch-and-run over the middle from Drew Barth (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S.) to Dom Parks (East Moline, Ill./United Township H.S.) for a 14-0 lead at the 10:25 mark of the first quarter. The play was longest pass of Barth's career and the longest reception of Parks' career.
Westminster was poised to slash its deficit in half on the ensuing series and drove into the red zone, but an errant option pitch from WC quarterback Trent White ended up in the hands of Chris Friend (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./St. Xavier), who returned the fumble 86 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 cushion midway through the first period. The play marked Eureka's first fumble returned for a touchdown since a 62-yarder by Marcus Washington at Crown on Nov. 8, 2014.
A WC turnover late in the first quarter set the stage for EC's next score. Macae Skaggs (Farmington, Ill./Farmington H.S.) recovered a Latif Adams fumble at the Westminster 32, allowing Barth to connect with Drayton Purvis (Fisher, Ill./Fisher H.S.) eight plays later for a 20-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead.
Josh Mead (Tampico, Ill./Bureau Valley H.S.) returned a partially blocked punt to the Westminster 3 later in the quarter, allowing Nick Holman (Metamora, Ill./Metamora H.S./St. Ambrose) to find Trever Zeibert (Monee, Ill./Peotone H.S.) in the flat for a 2-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal and a 35-0 lead.
Eureka's special teams unit pushed the lead to 42-0 in the final three minutes of the half. Friend broke through the line on 4th-and-10 to block Zach Roseman's punt near the WC goal line, allowing Ray Vogel (Bartonville, Ill./Limestone H.S.) to pounce on the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Nasir Phillips (Aurora, Ill./East Aurora H.S.) scored EC's final touchdown of the day, a 5-yard run with 1:15 left in the third quarter. The Blue Jays avoided the shutout when Kalyn Davis scored on a 1-yard plunge with 6:07 left in the game.
The Eureka defense was relentless Saturday, limiting the Blue Jays to 79 yards on 49 plays. Zeibert led the charge with six total tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss. Friend had four stops, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack. Skaggs and Vogel each added 1.0 sack, as the Red Devils combined for 11 tackles for loss on the afternoon. WC had more turnovers (four) than completed passes (three).
Reasnover's first-quarter score extended his all-time Eureka record to 37 rushing touchdowns and tied Eric Leiser's 1991 total of 13 rushing scores for second-most in a season by a Red Devil in the modern era. He ran for 108 yards Saturday, his fifth straight 100-yard game, to move into third place on the Red Devils' modern-era list with 2,834 career yards. Reasnover needs 18 more rushing yards to tie Greg McBroom (1998-01) for second place.
Barth made the start and completed four passes for 96 yards and two scores. He also rushed for 30 yards. The combination of Barth, Holman and Jackson Liddick (Upland, Ind./Eastbrook H.S.) combined for six completions for 124 passing yards.
Kuhne made six extra points Saturday to increase his season total to 29, tied for second-most in a season by a Red Devil since 1978. Travis Huber set the single-season mark with 34 extra points as a freshman in 2009.
Eureka will go for five straight league wins next Saturday at 1 p.m. against Greenville at McKinzie Field.
NOTABLES: The all-time series between Eureka and Westminster is now tied, 5-5 … The Red Devils are 3-2 against the Blue Jays at McKinzie Field with all five of the games falling on EC's homecoming weekend … The 42-point halftime lead was the largest of the Kurt Barth coaching era … Eureka held possession for 36:25 … Ten different Red Devils combined for 250 rushing yards … Three of Westminster's seven first downs resulted from an EC penalty … Westminster's first 12 series ended in a punt or a fumble and 10 of the first 12 series were three-and-outs or worse.