Preview: Eureka Aims For Five Straight Wins Saturday

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

EUREKA, Ill. -- The Eureka College football team will try to win five consecutive games for the second straight season and just the fifth time of the Red Devils' NCAA Division III era when Greenville visits Pete FioRito Stadium at McKinzie Field Saturday for a 1 p.m. Upper Midwest Athletic Conference kickoff.

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Eureka earned its fourth straight victory in decisive fashion last Saturday, a 48-6 homecoming triumph over Westminster at McKinzie Field. The Red Devils are 4-2 overall, the third time in the last five seasons EC has opened the season with at least four wins in its first six games. Eureka is 4-1 against conference opponents, one game behind league co-leaders MacMurray and St. Scholastica in the current UMAC standings.
The Red Devils deploy the UMAC's highest scoring offense at 37.2 points per game. EC rolls up an average of 429.8 yards per game, anchored by a rushing offense of 272.0 yards per contest that leads the UMAC and ranks 11th nationally. The dominant ground game allows the Red Devils to hold possession for 37 minutes, 21 seconds per game, the highest average time of possession in the country.
Not only does the Eureka offensive line pave the way for one of the country's top rushing attacks, the Red Devils have allowed only three sacks in 2017, ninth-fewest in NCAA Division III.
On the other side of the ball, Eureka continues to produce some of the best numbers in Division III. The Red Devils held rival Westminster to 79 yards last week to lower their season average to 210.7 yards allowed per game, third-lowest in the country. EC is equally tough against the run and the pass -- its 75.0 rushing yards allowed per game rank 11th in Division III and its 135.7 passing yards allowed rank 15th. Additionally, the Red Devils have allowed only 59 first downs through six games, 10th-fewest in the nation.
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.
Defense, special teams and a dominant rushing attack proved to be the difference for Eureka in a 48-6 UMAC throttling of Westminster last Saturday afternoon at a rain-soaked McKinzie Field. The victory was the Red Devils' sixth homecoming win in the last seven seasons.
The Red Devils marched 70 yards on six plays in less than three minutes to snag a 7-0 lead on a 13-yard run by LeAnthony Reasnover. EC's next score was a 62-yard catch-and-run over the middle from Drew Barth to Dom Parks for a 14-0 lead at the 10:25 mark of the first quarter.
Westminster was poised to slash its deficit in half on the ensuing series and drove into the red zone, but an errant option pitch from WC quarterback Trent White ended up in the hands of Chris Friend, who returned the fumble 86 yards for a touchdown and a 21-0 cushion midway through the first period.
A WC turnover late in the first quarter set the stage for EC's next score. Macae Skaggs recovered a fumble at the Westminster 32, allowing Barth to connect with Drayton Purvis eight plays later for a 20-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead.
Later, Nick Holman foundTrever Zeibert in the flat for a 2-yard touchdown on 4th-and-goal and a 35-0 lead. Eureka's special teams unit pushed the lead to 42-0 in the final three minutes of the half. Friend broke through the line on 4th-and-10 to block Zach Roseman's punt near the WC goal line, allowing Ray Vogel to pounce on the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
Nasir Phillips scored EC's final touchdown of the day, a 5-yard run with 1:15 left in the third quarter.
Last Saturday's final 42-point spread was Eureka's largest margin of victory since blanking Greenville 49-0 at McKinzie Field on Oct. 17, 1998. It was the seventh-largest win of EC's NCAA Division III era (1978-present) and the most lopsided UMAC win since the Red Devils joined the league in 2009.
The decision was also the Red Devils' biggest homecoming victory since a 60-13 Illini-Badger Football Conference triumph over Concordia (Ill.) on Oct. 7, 1995, as well as the largest margin of victory in 10 all-time meetings with Westminster.
During Eureka's current four-game win streak that dates back to a 48-20 win at Minnesota Morris on Sept. 16, all four of the Red Devils' victories have come by 24 points or more. It's just the second time in program's 127-year history the Red Devil have won four in a row by 24 points or more.
The 1991 Red Devils opened the season with five straight lopsided wins, topping Northwestern (Wis.) (35-3), Knox (41-7), Monmouth (37-3), MacMurray (45-9) and Blackburn (46-0) each by at least 24 points. The 46-0 shutout of Blackburn on Oct. 5, 1991 vaulted the Red Devils to #10 in the NAIA Division II national poll, EC's first top-10 ranking in school history.
Eureka went on to sweep its regular-season schedule in 1991, win the Illini-Badger-Hawkeye Football Conference title and qualify for the NAIA playoffs.
Another strong kicking performance and a dazzling 43-yard run on a trick play in the first quarter have given Eureka College sophomore Tanner Kuhne his third UMAC Special Teams Player of the Week award in 2017, the league office announced last Monday afternoon.
Kuhne had an excellent day for the Red Devils on Saturday. He made six extra points, averaged 52.9 yards on eight kickoffs and added a pair of touchbacks. The highlight of his effort was a 43-yard run along the sideline on a fake punt in the first quarter. The rush extended Eureka's first scoring drive of the afternoon and put the wheels in motion on the Red Devils' 48-6 win over Westminster, the Red Devils' largest margin of victory since 1998.
Kuhne leads all UMAC kickers with 29 extra points and 5.8 points scored per game in 2017. His 29 extra points are tied for second-most in a season by a Red Devil since 1978. Travis Huber set the single-season mark with 34 extra points as a freshman in 2009. Kuhne's 35 total points rank second among all Eureka players.
Junior running back LeAnthony Reasnover ran for 108 yards last Saturday against Westminster, his fifth straight 100-yard game. The effort moved him into third place on the Red Devils' modern-era list with 2,834 career yards. 
Reasnover needs 18 more rushing yards to tie Greg McBroom (1998-01) for second place. He can become Eureka's second 3,000-yard rusher with 166 more yards.
Greenville will visit McKinie Field one week removed from its largest victory since 2011, a 59-6 UMAC win at Crown. GU is 2-4 overall and 2-3 in conference action, earning its other league win in a 21-15 home victory over Northwestern (Minn.) last month.
The Greenville offense puts up 22.7 points and 364.8 yards per game, both marks ranking near the middle of the pack in the UMAC. GU gets most of its production from the rushing attack at 210.5 yards per game. Quarterback George Harris, a 6-1, 215-pound sophomore from Silverdale, Wash., ranks fourth in the league with 800 passing yards on 69 completions. He's thrown six touchdowns and only two interceptions. The top GU receiver is Derek Greifzu, who's hauled in 19 balls for 162 yards and a score.
Senior running back Jonny Pruiett averages 4.3 yards per carry and ranks third in the UMAC with 407 rushing yards.
Greenville is one of four UMAC teams to allow more than 30 points per game, yielding 32.8 points on average to rank eighth among 10 league members. The Panthers allow 367.8 yards per contest, but own the league's second-ranked rushing defense at only 137.5 yards allowed per game.
Freshman linebacker Bryson Johnson leads the GU defensive unit with 36 total tackles. Colton Faure, a senior defensive lineman, has added 7.0 tackles for loss, tied for ninth-most among UMAC defenders.
Greenville University, which formally changed its name from Greenville College last summer, is located in Greenville, Ill., approximately 45 miles east of St. Louis. The Panthers joined the UMAC prior to the 2009 season and compete alongside Eureka as full-time members of the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in all other men's and women's sports.
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.
After leading Greenville to a record of 9-2 and the program's fifth NCCAA Victory Bowl appearance in 2013, then-interim head coach Robbie Schomaker was appointed as GU's eighth head football coach.
Schomaker previously coordinated the offense and coached the quarterbacks at GU from 2010 through 2012. The Panthers finished in top 10 in the NCAA Division III for rushing yards with an average in excess of 300 yards per game each year Schomaker served as offensive coordinator. His 2011 offense ranked third in the country with 501 yards per game. The team also led the conference in rushing yards, total yards and points in 2011 and 2012.
Before Greenville, Schomaker coached at Trinity International where he spent four seasons as the offensive line coach and two seasons as the special teams coordinator. Schomaker received his bachelor's degree in business management at Trinity International in 2005 where he was a two year starter at defensive end.
Eureka and Greenville have met as conference foes in every season since the Panthers began fielding a team in 1987. GU owns the all-time series lead, 20-10, including an 11-4 record against the Red Devils at McKinzie Field. 
The 30 all-time meetings between the two schools make Greenville the seventh-most common opponent in Eureka football history. It's the second-longest active rivalry behind Eureka's ongoing 32-season series with MacMurray that has been played every year since 1985.
Eureka's 27-13 victory last season in Greenville ended a streak of 13 consecutive GU wins over EC dating back to 2003. The Red Devils are in search of their first win over the Panthers at McKinzie Field since a 22-16 Illini-Badger Football Conference win on Oct. 5, 2002.
Eureka will provide a live video broadcast (weather permitting) and live statistics of Saturday's game. The links will be available at Updates via Twitter will be available at @EurekaGameDay.