ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Less than 12 months after competing on the same field for the 2016 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference title, the Eureka College football team and Northwestern (Minn.) will square off again in the 2017 league opener on Saturday in St. Paul, Minn. Kickoff at Reynolds Field is set for noon.
Preview: Red Devils Seek Redemption in UMAC Opener at Northwestern
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Posted: Sep 06, 2017
Eureka will aim to get into the win column for the first time after dropping its non-conference season opener to Knox last weekend at McKinzie Field. The Red Devils will also try to avoid their first 0-2 start since the 2014 season.
Eureka returns 19 starters from last season's 8-2 team that competed for the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference championship on the final day of the regular season. Six All-UMAC honorees return from 2016 -- three on offense and three on defense.
In all, more than 40 letterwinners are back from last season's team. More than 40 newcomers will join the program in 2017 to give the Red Devils' their largest football roster of the Kurt Barth coaching era.
RONDINELLI SHINES IN DEBUT
The very first offensive touch of Rhett Rondinelli's collegiate career couldn't have provided a better result -- the 6-foot-2, 180-pound freshman took a handoff on the fifth play of the game from scrimmageand raced 29 yards down the sideline before diving to the pylon for his first collegiate touchdown.
Rondinelli finished the contest with 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries. He added 22 kickoff return yards and three receving yards to lead the Red Devils with 133 all-purpose yards.
Saturday's 108-yard effort on the ground marked Eureka's second-largest individual rushing total in a season opener since Kurt Barth became head coach in 2009. Sophomore quarterback Drew Barth added 97 yards on the ground Saturday and junior running back LeAnthony Reasnover tacked on 88, nearly giving the Red Devils multiple 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since Oct. 25, 2008 at MacMurray
Rondinelli's rushing total on Saturday was also EC's best by a Eureka freshman since LeAnthony Reasnover went for 125 yards in a 35-0 win at Iowa Wesleyan on Oct. 17, 2015.
REASNOVER GETS 2,000
Junior running back LeAnthony Reasnover finished Saturday's game against Knox with 88 rushing yards to become Eureka's first 2,000-yard rusher since 2005. The Momence, Ill. native will take the field this weekend with 2,062 career yards, 31 shy of tying Andy Swenson (2002-05) for fourth place on Eureka's Division III-era career list.
Reasnover finished last eason with 1,098 rushing yards, the third-highest total of Eureka's NCAA Division III era (since 1978) and the most by a Red Devil since 1993. He also scored 12 rushing touchdowns for the second consecutive season, tying his own 2015 mark for third place on Eureka's single-season list since 1978
Senior Ray Vogel made nine tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss to lead the Eureka defense in last weekend's contest against Knox. Senior Trever Zeibert added eight stops and 1.5 tackles for loss, while senior Chris Friend had seven tackles and 2.0 tackles for loss.
Sophomore Trevon Moore led the Red Devils with two pass breakups, while Josh Mead had a critical interception in the final two minutes.
Eureka will begin its ninth season as an associate member of the UMAC on Saturday. The Red Devils are 4-4 in eight previous league openers, including consecutive victories over Martin Luther in each of the previous two seasons.
Eureka will be beginning its conference schedule at Northwestern for the second time since 2013. The Red Devils previously started the conference schedule with a 26-9 win at Northwestern on Sept. 14, 2013.
Like Eureka, Northwestern will look to bounce back from a week-one loss after yielding 530 yards of total offense in a 42-7 non-conference defeat to Augsburg last Saturday in Minneapolis.
The Eagles trailed AU 19-0 Saturday before Ethan Bush scored on a 3-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first quarter. The play marked UNW's only score of the day. Augsburg, which lost the 2016 opener to UNW, led 29-7 at halftime.
Northwestern quarterback Taylor Lindahl, a 6-foot junior from Watertown, S.D., finished the opener 15-for-33 for 177 yards and a pair of interceptions. Dom McDew ran for 43 yards on 16 carries and Gavin Welch hauled in seven of Lindahls' 15 completions for 66 yards.
Defensively, the Eagles yielded 530 yards last weekend, 393 of which came through the air. The Auggies averaged 6.7 yards per play and racked up 25 first downs. Senior defensive back Daniel Stratton and junior linebacker Aaron Regnier shared the UNW lead with 11 tackles apiece, followed by senior linebacker Gideon Burnham with 10 stops.
The Eagles went 9-2 overall last season and 8-1 in UMAC competition to win their first outright league championship since 2008. UNW also qualified for the NCAA Division III Playoffs for the first time in program history, dropping a 43-0 decision to crosstown rival and eventual quarterfinalist St. Thomas (Minn.).
Founded in 1902, the University of Northwestern is located primarily in Roseville, Minn. , just minutes from St. Paul. The undergraduate enrollment is approximately 1,800 students. UNW joined the Twin Rivers Conference in 1972 before the league was renamed the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference in 1983.
MEET THE HEAD COACHES
Eureka College Athletics Hall of Famer Kurt Barth is in his ninth season as the head coach at Eureka. The winningest head coach in program football history, Barth has led EC to a pair of eight-win seasons and molded the Red Devils into an annual contender in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
In all, Eureka has received 53 All-UMAC selections in eight seasons under Barth's direction. Additionally, Barth's strategies have put a dent in the Eureka football record book, as the Red Devils have broken 16 program records, including eight passing records, since his arrival in 2009.
Matt Moore was named Northwestern's sixth head football coach on April 18, 2017. Moore, who has been on staff at Northwestern for over a decade, previously served as the defensive coordinator at UNW for the past three seasons.
The Western Springs, Ill., native was a member of the Northwestern football program from 1995 through 1998 and was an all-conference defensive end for the Eagles. Moore played for longtime Northwestern coach Jimmy Miller after graduating from Lyons Township High School, a school that competes within Illinois' largest class (8A).
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
The Red Devils and Eagles will meet for the eighth time Saturday in the Twin Cities. Northwestern leads the all-time series, 5-2, since the first-ever matchup between the two schools in 2010. Eureka won the first-ever meeting at McKinzie Field, a 40-14 rout on Oct. 23, 2010 in which then-sophomore Sam Durley threw for 289 yards and five touchdowns. The Eagles responded the following season with a 53-14 victory at the final UMAC Dome Day in the Metrodome on Oct. 29, 2011.
Northwestern's 37-15 win at McKinzie Field last November secured UNW's first outright UMAC title since 2008, as well as its first-ever NCAA Division III playoff bid.
The upcoming contest also marks EC's third trip to Reynolds Field. Eureka won in St. Paul, 26-9, on Sept. 14, 2013, but lost in its previous visit, 31-20, on Nov. 7, 2015.
EUREKA IN MINNESOTA
This Saturday represents Eureka's 19th game in the state of Minnesota in program history. The Red Devils are an even 9-9 in their previous 18 trips to The North Star State.
Prior to the beginning of the Red Devils' associate membership in the UMAC 2009, Eureka took only one road trip to Minnesota in nearly 120 years of competition, a 21-16 triumph over Bethel on Oct. 17, 1970 in St. Paul, Minn.
Since joining the UMAC, Eureka has taken at least one trip to Minnesota each season. The Red Devils swept their Minnesota slate in 2013, earning road wins at Northwestern (26-9), Minnesota Morris (21-13) and Martin Luther (50-14).
FOLLOW THE ACTION ONLINE
Northwestern will provide a live video broadcast and live statistics of Saturday's game. The links will be available at both unweagles.com and eurekareddevils.com.
Frequent updates via Twitter will be available at @EurekaGameDay.