Concordia Chicago Edges Eureka on Homecoming, 35-34

Photo courtesy of Taylor Malik.
Photo courtesy of Taylor Malik.

EUREKA — The Eureka football team's home-field and homecoming winning streaks came to an abrupt end on Saturday.

Concordia Chicago delivered a go-ahead touchdown drive with 15 seconds left and EC was unable to answer in time, ultimately falling to the Cougars, 35-34.

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The loss snapped a 12-game EC winning streak at McKinzie Field. It was also the team's first homecoming loss since 2015, and only the second in the past nine seasons.

The Red Devils held a 34-14 lead over Concordia Chicago with 1:52 left in the third quarter, but the Cougars scored 21 points unanswered the rest of the way to seize the win.

A pass by CUC's Griffin Beaudette following a reverse resulted in an 8-yard touchdown reception for Da'Nas Pinellas at the end of the third quarter to make it 34-21.

A 29-yard touchdown by Lance Moise cut the lead to six with 9:53 left. And, at the end of a 14-play, 88-yard drive that nearly lasted six minutes, Moise scored again on a 1-yard plunge to tie the game. Andrew Lechuga's successful extra-point attempt gave the visitors a one-point edge with 15 seconds remaining.

By the time EC's drive began, there were only eight seconds on the clock.

Quarterback Drew Barth (Minonk, Ill./Fieldcrest) hit Caleb Fauver (Catlin, Ill./Salt Fork) for a 15-yard pick-up before going out of bounds with four seconds left. Then, in an attempt to set up another play, Barth found James Douglas III (Orlando, Fla./Deltona) for six more with about a second left.

However, the officials ruled that the clock had run out before he stepped out of bounds, sending the Cougars into an ecstatic celebration on the other side of the field.

Playing through injury, Moise racked up 159 rushing yards and scored two touchdowns on 17 carries for the Cougars. Quarterback Jaxon Aubry threw for 97 yards, a touchdown and a pair of interceptions.

For the Red Devils, running back Joe Hughes (Normal, Ill./University) scored two touchdowns and finished just under the 100-yard rushing mark at 97 yards.

Barth threw for 111 yards, one touchdown and one interception, and added 69 yards and another score on the ground.

Douglas was responsible for the touchdown — a 51-yard beauty that gave EC its first lead of the game in the third quarter.

Before the Red Devils came so close to victory, they had to fight their way out of a 14-0 hole.

The Cougars scored on their first possession of the game and extended the lead on their first possession of the second quarter.

Eureka finally got on the board after a 10-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard rushing touchdown by Barth with 9:18 left in the half.

The EC defense did its part on the next Concordia Chicago drive. The Red Devils recorded three straight tackles for a loss, with Julius Peyton's (Peoria, Ill./Richwoods) 16-yard sack forcing the Cougars to punt from 4th and 29.

 Eureka High School product Alexander Brittain (Eureka, Ill./Eureka) also made a big play on the drive. The freshman finished the game with a game-high and a career-high nine tackles, including seven solos and one of EC's three sacks. Austin McCarty (Oakwood, Ill./Oakwood) followed with seven total tackles and the first sack of his senior season.

After the defense's big stand, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the ensuing punt gave EC a short field. Four plays later, Hughes scored and Eureka tied the game.

After halftime, Eureka produced a dominant third quarter.

The defense forced CUC to go three-and-out, Barth and Douglas worked their magic on the next possession and a 28-yard pick six by Nehemiah Butler (Elmwood, Ill./Elmwood) put EC ahead, 27-14.

Finally, an interception by Adrian Walker (St. Louis, Mo./Parkway North) set up a 10-play, 60-yard drive that ended with Hughes in the end zone and the Red Devils up by 20 points.

But after Eureka conceded the touchdown off the reverse at the end of the third, things got off track.

The offense was forced to punt twice, untimely penalties stacked up and the Red Devils' defense couldn't stop Moise from moving the ball up the field and eating up the clock.

With the tough loss, Eureka fell to 3-3 on the season and 1-2 in the Northern Athletic Collegiate Conference.

The Red Devils will look to rebound next Saturday at Benedictine (4-2, 3-0). Kickoff is at 3:30 p.m.