Red Devils Fall in NCAA Playoffs Opener at Wisconsin-Whitewater

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

WHITEWATER, Wis. – One of the most successful seasons in Eureka College football history came to a close Saturday in the Red Devils' 67-14 defeat to #4/#5 Wisconsin-Whitewater in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. Drew Barth (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S.) threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes to Caleb Fauver (Catlin, Ill./Salt Fork H.S.) in the defeat.

Eureka ends the season with a 9-2 overall record, its third season in program history with at least nine victories. The Red Devils' 30 victories since 2015 make the outgoing 10-player senior class the winningest group in program history.

Barth finished 25-for-33 for 238 yards and two touchdowns. His 25 completions equaled a career best. Fauver had a career day, setting new career bests with nine receptions for 131 yards and two scores. James Douglas III (Orlando, Fla./Deltona H.S./Cornell) hauled in five balls for 66 yards.

Le'Anthony Reasnover (Momence, Ill./Momence H.S.) ran 21 times for 50 yards. He finished his decorated 41-game career with 6,036 rushing yards, the 10th player in NCAA Division III history to reach the 6,000-yard plateau. He scored 95 rushing touchdowns and his 600 career points were third-most in Division III history. For the 2018 season, Reasnover's 2,187 rushing yards ranked 12th on the Division III list and his 252 points fell eight points shy of equaling a Division III record.

Cameron Lucas (Canton, Ill./Canton H.S./Upper Iowa) made a team-best seven tackles and broke up a pass. Trevon Moore (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley H.S.) made five stops – all unassisted – and broke up two UWW pass attempts. Antonio Greenwood (Momence, Ill./Momence H.S.) and Logan Noel (Westville, Ill./Westville H.S.) each made a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.

The Red Devils drove 22 yards on the six-time national champion Warhawks on the game's opening series, but couldn't convert on 3rd-and-4 at the Eureka 48. Following a punt, UWW grabbed a 7-0 lead on Ryan Wisniewski's 18-yard touchdown run.

Eureka covered 40 more yards on its second possession of the afternoon, including a 30-yard completion from Barth to Douglas that crossed into UWW territory. The visitors ultimately came up empty on a 4th-and-1 play at the Warhawks' 36.

Alex Peete extended the UWW lead to 15-0 with a 20-yard score with 2:37 left in the first period. Eureka pushed into the hosts' territory again on the ensuing series, but a lost fumble on the first play of the second quarter on 3rd-and-short at the UWW 43 further tilted the momentum. Ronny Ponick's 1-yard plunge at the 9:28 mark of the second quarter put the wheels in motion on a 35-point second quarter for UWW. The Warhawks led 50-0 at halftime.

After a 31-yard field from Wojciech Gasienica and a 2-yard score from Ponick, Eureka got on the board with a 7-play, 84-yard scoring drive. A 17-yard strike from Barth to Blake Phillips (Catlin, Ill./Salt Fork H.S.) converted 2nd-and-long and Reasnover successfully converted on 3rd-and-1 near midfield to set the stage for Barth's 45-yard touchdown throw to Fauver with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Red Devils scored one final time, another Barth-to-Fauver connection that punctuated a 12-play, 80-yard series covering more than six minutes. EC converted on third down three times and scored on Fauver's 35-yard reception with 4:08 left in the game.