CHICAGO – With a slew of big plays and consistently stingy defense, the Eureka football team captured a 26-3 victory over Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference foe Concordia Chicago on Saturday.
It was the team's first win of the 2021 spring season and the team's 25th against the Cougars in 41 meetings in the all-time series.
The Eureka defense held the Cougars to 109 yards of total offense on 58 plays, limiting the home team to just 50 passing yards and 59 rushing yards.
The Red Devils only conceded nine first downs on the day and they came up with one key takeaway – a 55-yard pick-6 by Jack Arnett (Princeville, Ill./Princeville) – which helped put the game away midway through the fourth quarter.
Sophomore quarterback Nathan Garard (Gibson City, Ill./Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley) threw for three touchdowns and a career-high 224 passing yards on 13-of-28 passing without recording an interception. He also rushed for a team-high 53 yards on 16 attempts, while running back Joe Hughes (Normal, Ill./University) added 49 rushing yards on 10 carries.
Junior wide receiver Pierce Bradford (Decatur, Ill./Argenta-Oreana) had a career day, scoring two touchdowns for the second week in a row and racking up 164 receiving yards on five receptions. He now has a team-high four touchdown receptions. Freshman Samuel Mono (Joliet, Ill./Joliet) recorded five catches for 35 yards and made his third touchdown reception of the season.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Cougars got on the board with a 10-yard field goal by Nicholas Pasut early in the second.
The Red Devils' subsequent 11-play. 56-yard drive fell short on the Concordia 7, but the EC defense forced a three-and-out and the offense finally broke through with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Garard to Mono with 2:01 left in the half. The extra point attempt was no good, and the Red Devils ended up going into halftime with a 6-3 lead.
In the third quarter, the visitors found separation with a pair of string of plays. First, Kwentin Brookins (Gary, Ind./Westmont) set up the Red Devils offense with a 66-yard kick return. Then, Garard capitalized, finding a wide-open Bradford for a 34-yard touchdown pass on the team's first play of the half.
After junior linebacker Colton Walsberg (Pontiac, Ill./Pontiac) delivered an eight-yard sack on 2nd and 12 and the EC defense got a third-down stop, Garard aired it out to Bradford, who went up for it and went all the way to the end zone for an 88-yard touchdown reception. Sam Bartels' (Jerseyville, Ill./Jersey Community) extra point attempt gave EC a 19-3 advantage.
The Red Devils punted on their next three drives, but the defense was able to produce the final score. Arnett picked off Chicago Concordia's Jason Speulveda on a pass over the middle and darted down the right side, all the way to the end zone for the first touchdown of his collegiate career with 7:43 remaining. Bartels' extra point made it 26-3, and it stayed that way until the clock ran out.
Jon Jackson (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) made two sacks for the Red Devils – one in the first quarter for a six-yard loss and one for a 15-yard loss in the fourth – and finished with six total tackles on the day.
Brendan Durr (Washington, Ill./Washington) recorded a team-high seven total tackles, including six solos and one for a seven-yard loss. Amari Smith (Hazel Crest, Ill./Hillcrest) and Donovan Hathaway (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria) each had total tackles, while Arnett and Austin Hopkins (Arcola, Ill./Arcola) each had four.
The details of the Red Devils' (1-2) next game are to be announced.