Big Plays, Miscues Doom Red Devils at Northwestern, 19-13

Photo courtesy of Traci Zeibert.
Photo courtesy of Traci Zeibert.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Eureka College junior LeAnthony Reasnover (Momence, Ill./Momence H.S.) ran for 151 yards to move into fourth place on EC's modern-era rushing list and sophomore Drew Barth (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S.) set career highs with 25 completions and 242 passing yards, but a pair of long touchdown plays and a critical penalty in the overtime period spoiled a valiant comeback by the Red Devils in a 19-13 overtime loss at Northwestern (Minn.), Saturday afternoon at Reynolds Field in St. Paul, Minn.

After a 14-play drive to begin the game failed to produce points, Eureka quickly threatened again thanks to a UNW 3-and-out. A 19-yard gain ultimately ended in disaster for the Red Devils when an EC fumble at the Northwestern 1 bounced out of the end zone for a touchback. The Eureka defense promptly forced the hosts into a 3rd-and-22 scenario at their own 8, but Northwestern quarterback Taylor Lindahl found Gavin Welch with a 92-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Lindahl pushed the UNW lead to 13-0 later in the quarter with another big play. His 50-yard completion to Trevor Lundburg gave the Eagles their second long touchdown play of the quarter. The 2-point try missed and the score remained 13-0 until halftime.

Eureka finally broke through midway through the third quarter when sophomore Tanner Kuhne (Princeton, Ill./Princeton H.S.) made his first collegiate field goal, a 25-yard try that pulled EC within 13-3 with 8:16 left in the third period. The Red Devils inched closer on Barth's 23-yard touchdown throw to Jeremiah Vance (Havana, Ill./Havana H.S.) with 13:49 left in the fourth quarter. Kuhne's extra point made the score 13-10.

While the EC defense continued to keep UNW off the board, an interception, turnover on downs and a punt on consecutive Eureka possessions left the score 13-10 in favor of Northwestern. The Red Devils ultimately forced a 13-13 deadlock in the final minute of regulation when Kuhne connected on a 26-yard try. The kick forced Eureka's first overtime game since 2004.

The Red Devils had possession first in the overtime period, but Barth's throw near the end zone on 3rd-and-11 was intercepted. After Northwestern went 3-and-out on its overtime series, Eureka appeared to force a second overtime on a blocked 42-yard field goal try, but a personal foul penalty on the Red Devils gave the hosts new life and a first down at the Eureka 12. Three plays and another EC penalty later, Nate VanBeusekom punched in a 2-yard touchdown run to give UNW a 19-13 victory.

Reasnover ran 30 times for 151 yards, increasing his career total to 2,213 and moving in front of Andy Swenson (2002-05) for fourth place on the Red Devils' Division III-era rushing list. Barth went 25-for-44 for 242 yards and a score. Reasnover, Rhett Rondinelli (Chesterton, Ind./Chesterton H.S.) and Brett Charlton (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) shared the team lead with five receptions, while Dom Parks (East Moline, Ill./United Township H.S.) hauled in four balls for a team-high 105 receiving yards.

Aside from Lindahl's two big pass plays in the first quarter, the Eureka defense limited Northwestern to 75 yards and seven first downs. Macae Skaggs (Farmington, Ill./Farmington H.S.) logged a team-high nine tackles and assisted on a sack with Chris Friend (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./St. Xavier). Trever Zeibert (Monee, Ill./Peotone H.S.) added a sack and Josh Mead (Tampico, Ill./Bureau Valley H.S.) had seven tackles.

Eureka will return to Minnesota next Saturday for a noon UMAC kickoff at Minnesota Morris.