ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Eureka College football team took the field in its first NCAA postseason game Saturday, coming up short in a 47-8 first-round defeat at #4 St. Thomas (Minn.) at O'Shaughnessy Stadium in St. Paul, Minn. The decision ends the Red Devils' season with an 8-3 record.
After both teams traded punts to begin the game, the Tommies broke the scoreless tie when Jacques Perra completed a 5-yard touchdown throw to Gabe Green at the 10:08 mark of the first half. The 2-point conversion failed and the UST lead was 6-0.
The margin remained 6-0 at the end of the first quarter. UST stretched its lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter on Tom Loeffler's 27-yard touchdown rush. Josh Parks made it 19-0 with 4:52 remaining in the period. St. Thomas took the 19-0 cushion into halftime.
Perra helped the Tommies start to pull away in the third quarter with his 15-yard pass to Jackson Hull for a touchdown and 27-0 advantage. Adam Brant later returned an interception 28 yards for a score and a blocked punt returned by UST's Andrew Inserra for a touchdown gave the hosts a 40-0 lead after three quarters.
Eureka got its only score of the day early in the fourth quarter. A 31-yard throw from Drew Barth (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest H.S.) to Caleb Fauver (Catlin, Ill./Salt Fork H.S.) pushed the Red Devils near the red zone. Eureka later advanced to the UST 4 thanks to an 18-yard throw from Barth to LeAnthony Reasnover (Momence, Ill./Momence H.S.). EC found the end zone two plays later on Barth's 2-yard dump to Trever Zeibert (Monee, Ill./Peotone H.S.). Jed Vance (Havana, Ill./Havana H.S.) successfully converted the 2-point conversion when his pass to the end zone was hauled in by Tanner Kuhne (Princeton, Ill./Princeton H.S.).
Stephen Wagner closed the scoring with a 26-yard touchdown run just 16 seconds after the Red Devils' touchdown.
Lined up against the top defense in Division III, Eureka totaled 155 yards Saturday. Reasnover ran 27 times for 41 yards and made four catches for 35 yards. Barth came off the bench to complete six throws for 76 yards and Nick Holman (Metamora, Ill./Metamora H.S./St. Ambrose) completed eight passes for 33 yards.
Zeibert registered seven tackles, including a game-high 5.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks. The Red Devils combined for nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage and sacked Perra three times. Collin Aimone (Spring Valley, Ill./Hall H.S.) made a game-high 10 tackles.
St. Thomas will advance to play Berry (Ga.) next Saturday in the round of 16. The Tommies gained 397 yards Saturday 132 passing yards from Perra and 106 rushing yards from Parks.
Saturday's game marked the final collegiate game for more than a dozen Eureka seniors, a group was part of a 2-8 team as freshmen in 2014. The Red Devils' final 8-3 record this season gave the program consecutive seasons with eight wins or more for just the second time in program history.