EUREKA, Ill. -- The Eureka College football team scored 22 unanswered points after halftime and kept visiting MacMurray off the scoreboard over the final 47 minutes of Saturday's 28-13 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference win over the Highlanders at McKinzie Field.
After Eureka (3-1, 2-1 UMAC) mishandled the snap on a punt attempt on its first drive of the afternoon, the visitors needed only one play to snag a 7-0 advantage when Davonta Preston scored on a 7-yard run just 137 seconds into the game.
The Red Devils bounced back later in the quarter on another special teams miscue, this one from the Highlanders. Junior Trever Zeibert (Monee, Ill./Peotone H.S.) broke through to block Ryan Metsker's punt attempt on 4th-and-7 from the MacMurray 18, allowing sophomore Colton Fauver (Catlin, Ill./Catlin H.S.) to scoop up the loose ball and return it for a score. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful, leaving MC in front 7-6 with 4:47 left in the first.
MacMurray (2-2, 1-2 UMAC) promptly returned the favor, ripping off 75 yards in five plays and scoring on Coy Dorothy's 23-yard strike to Parker at the 2:50 mark of the first quarter. The point-after attempt was kicked wide to the right, leaving the Highlanders in front 13-6.
Eureka nearly evened the score midway through the second quarter, but a fumble inside the red zone thwarted a 10-play drive that chewed nearly five minutes off the clock. MacMurray carried the 13-6 cushion into halftime.
A Chris Friend (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.) sack of Dorothy put the exclamation point on a prompt 3-and-out forced by the EC defense on the first series of the second half. Three plays from scrimmage later, EC sophomore running back LeAnthony Reasnover (Momence, Ill./Momence H.S.) broke free on a 30-yard touchdown run with 11:48 left in the quarter. EC failed to complete the conversion attempt, leaving the score 13-12 in favor of the visitors.
Fauver made another big play moments later, intercepting Dorothy at the Eureka 25. The Red Devils followed with a scoring drive and took the lead for good when junior quarterback Colton Johnson (Lewistown, Ill./Lewistown H.S.) found Brett Charlton (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S.) on a 58-yard touchdown throw midway through the third quarter. Another failed point-after try kept the Eureka lead at 18-13.
The Red Devils limited MacMurray to just three first downs the rest of the way. Johnson put the game further out of reach when his 5-yard touchdown strike to freshman Matt Sutton (Dunlap, Ill./Dunlap H.S.) on 3rd-and-goal made it 25-13 with 13:07 left. Senior Tyler Winders tacked on a 22-yard field goal with 2:40 to play, capping a 12-play drive that erased nearly nine minutes off the clock.
Johnson drove the offense, going 11-for-14 for 169 yards and two scores. The touchdown receptions by Charlton and Sutton each marked their first career touchdowns. Ten different Red Devils had at least one catch. Reasnover led the ground game with 79 yards on 21 rushes.
Winders now has 17 career field goals and needs three more successful tries to tie Travis Huber's (2009-12) all-time program record of 20.
The EC defense shined for the second consecutive time at McKinzie Field, holding the Highlanders to just 185 yards of total offense. Dorothy was especially limited, completing just 10 passes for 106 yards and three interceptions. MC running back Chazz Middlebrook logged 64 yards for the day. The visitors were just 1-for-11 on third down conversion attempts.
Eureka's 3-1 mark is its best start after four games since 2013. The Red Devils have opened the season 3-1 or better six times since joining NCAA Division III in 1978. Three of those campaigns have come under the direction of head coach Kurt Barth.
The Red Devils will return to the road next weekend for a 1 p.m. UMAC kickoff Saturday at Greenville. Eureka will try to snap a 13-game skid in the all-time series with the Panthers.