Preview: Finlandia Visits Saturday For NACC-MIAA Challenge Series

Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.
Photo courtesy of Michelle Curl.

EUREKA -- The unbeaten Eureka College football team will play on its home turf for the second consecutive weekend when winless Finlandia visits for a 1 p.m. non-conference kickoff this Saturday at McKinzie Field. Saturday's game, part of the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference-Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Challenge Series, marks the first-ever football meeting between Eureka and Finlandia.

PDF Version of Eureka/Finlandia Game Notes

The Red Devils have scored 43.5 points per game during its 2-0 start, earning lopsided non-league wins over Knox and Iowa Wesleyan to begin the season.
A win this Saturday at McKinzie Field would give the Red Devils their first 3-0 start since 1991. The 1991 Red Devils went on to post the program's only 10-0 regular season in program history. Eureka has opened a season 3-0 only six times in program history, and the 1991 team is the only Eureka squad to do so since the program's affiliation with NCAA Division III began in 1978.
The Eureka offense is highlighted by a dominant ground game. The Red Devils rank 10th in the country through the season's first two weeks with 354.0 rushing yards per game. The same offensive line that paves the way for the ground attack hasn't allowed a sack in more than 40 dropbacks this season. Only 15 teams in the country haven't yielded a sack in 2018.
The Red Devils' defense has been equally dominant, holding their first two opponents to 235.5 yards on average through two games. The run defense has been especially stingy, holding Knox to 28 yards in the opener and overpowering Iowa Wesleyan to the tune of 14 tackles for loss and minus-13 rushing yards last weekend.
In the midst of a major program renassance that culminated in the program's first-ever NCAA playoffs bid last year, Eureka entered the 2018 season with 86 student-athletes on the roster. Thirty-three letterwinners from last season's championship squad have returned for 10th-year head coach Kurt Barth, the winningest head coach in 127 years of Eureka College football.
More than fifth newcomers have joined the program for 2018, another massive recruiting haul for Barth, who regularly welcomes large groups of student-athletes.
Eureka rolled to a convincing 38-6 non-conference victory over Iowa Wesleyan last Saturday night at McKinzie Field.
EC led from wire-to-wire and needed less than three minutes to grab a 6-0 lead when Le'Anthony Reasnover capped 6-play, 65-yard drive with an 8-yard score. Drew Barth later made it 13-0 in the final minute of the opening period with a 34-yard strike to Jimmy Douglas III.
The visitors earned their only score of the night with 4:28 left in the first half on DeMarcus Collins's 12-yard throw to Dylan McDonald. Eureka answered before the end of the quarter when Tanner Kuhne drilled a 40-yard field goal on the final play of the half, EC's first successful field goal try of 40 yards or more since then-freshman Travis Huber made a 43-yard kick versus Crown on Nov. 7, 2009.
Reasnover's record-breaking rush extended Eureka's lead to 22-6 with 5:20 left in the third quarter. Shortly after Kuhne pinned the Tigers deep with a 38-yard punt, Bryson Smith dropped Collins in the end zone for a safety and a 24-6 cushion and the rout was on. Barth's 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter pushed the lead to 31-6 and Joe Hughes capped it off with his 80-yard run with 5:01 left
Senior running back Le'Anthony Reasnover ran for 159 yards and scored a first-quarter touchdown to become the program's all-time leading scorerin Saturday's win over Iowa Wesleyan.
Reasnover's 8-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter increased his career scoring total to 378 to break the previous program record of 371 held by current 10th-year head coach Kurt Barth. Reasnover also finished the night with 4,133 career rushing yards, the Red Devils' first 4,000-yard rusher in program history.
Junior quarterback Drew Barth completed 12 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown in the win over Iowa Wesleyan. He closed the game with 155 completions and his 21-yard throw to Caleb Fauver midway through the third quarter moved him ahead of Mike Simpson (1993-94) for 10th place on the program's all-time list.
Barth is 155-for-269 for 1,824 yards and 13 touchdowns in his 19-game collegiate career. Also an effective runner, his 686 career rushing yards are third-most by a Eureka quarterback in the modern era and he joins Nick Lindsey (2006-09) and Gary Urwiler (1989-91) as the only Red Devils in the modern era with at least 1,800 passing yards and 600 rushing yards.
Sophomore linebacker Logan Noel has been chosen Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced Tuesday morning. Noel had six tackles, 2.0 tackles for loss and a sack in the Red Devils' 38-6 non-conference rout of Iowa Wesleyan.
Noel owned or shared the team lead in tackles, tackles for loss and sacks in the win over the Tigers, has now recorded a sack in each of the Red Devils' first two games.
Finlandia is 0-2 this season after beginning its season with consecutive losses to Concordia (Wis.) (31-3) and Ripon (70-0).
The Lions' offense has been limited to 157.5 yards per game and has yet to produce a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback De'Liontae Johnson is 19-for-41 for 158 yards and leads a passing offense that ranks 223rd in Division III.
Defensively, the Lions have given up more than 1,000 yards through the season's first two weekends to rank 215th out of 236 Division III programs. The Red Devils' signature ground game is poised for another big performance against the Lions, who have allowed more than 300 yards per game in losses to Concordia (Wis.) and Ripon. Finlandia's top tackler is freshman defensive back Marvin Anthony, who has 19 tackles and an interception this season.
Central Michigan graduate and Escanaba, Mich. native Travis Wiltzius is the interim head coach at FU. He's been a member of the coaching staff since it first began intercollegiate competition in 2015.
The Finlandia football program began competition in 2015. The Lions are 7-19 all-time and will play a full 10-game schedule for the first time in 2018. FU is also in its first season as an associate member of the MIAA and, like Eureka, is competing in the NACC-MIAA Challenge Series for the first time.
Finlandia University is located in Hancock, Mich. and in the Keweenaw Peninsula, the northernmost point of land in Michigan. The Lions' trip to McKinzie Field this weekend will cover 513 miles.
Eureka and Finlandia have never met previously in football. Saturday's game, part of the annual NACC-MIAA Challenge Series established in 2012, is the Red Devils' first against any active member of the MIAA.
Finlandia is just the second opponent from the state of Michigan to play Eureka in football. Northwood, which currently competes in the NCAA Division II Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, swept a home-and-home series from EC in 1967 and 1969.