Eureka Can’t Keep Pace with Wisconsin Lutheran, 68-41

File photo.
File photo.

EUREKA – Ben Bernabei (Peru, Ill./St. Bede Academy) became the fifth Eureka player in program history to rush for five touchdowns, but the Red Devils couldn't stop Wisconsin Lutheran on Saturday.

The Warriors tallied a program-record 603 yards of offense en route to a 68-41 win over Eureka. The Red Devils finished with a season-high 575 yards offense.

It was also the second Eureka game this season to end with a combined point total of more than 100.

In his first game as the Red Devils' primary ball carrier, Bernabei recorded 161 rushing yards on 27 carries with five touchdowns. It was the 12th time in program history for a Red Devil to rush for five touchdowns and the second time this season.

Like his teammate Lamont Hill Jr. (East Moline, Ill./United Township) before him, Bernabei joined an exclusive club that features only Le'Anthony Reasnover, who scored seven on Nov. 4, 2017, six on Sept. 30, 2017, and five on Oct. 28, 2017 and five times during the 2018 season, Eric Leiser (six on Nov. 2, 1991), Ralph McKinzie (five on Oct. 15, 1920) and Hill, who scored five touchdowns in a 58-57 overtime victory over Rockford on Sept. 18.

Quarterback Lukas Tinkham (Abingdon, Ill./Abingdon-Avon) threw for a career-high 320 yards on 19-of-35 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Freshman receiver Sebastian Hill (Pekin, Ill./Pekin) hauled in a team-high nine catches for 149 yards and a touchdown, tying a career high in yardage.

Malek Folston (Cocoa, Fla./Vera) notched three receptions for 70 yards and Pierce Bradford (Decatur, Ill./Decatur-Argenta) had five catches for 50 yards.

Austin Hopkins (Arcola, Ill./Acola) led the defense with 10 tackles for the second straight week and third time this season, including seven solo efforts and three assists.

Wisconsin Lutheran quarterback Nick Yockey threw for 348 yards on 15-of-26 passing with four touchdowns. His first score was on a 77-yard catch-and-run by Mike DuPree on the first play of the game.

Eureka answered with an 11-play, 60-yard scoring drive that ended with Bernabei's first career rushing touchdown – a three-yard rush that put the Red Devils on the board.

Yockey then went deep again, finding Carter Schneider for a 66-yard touchdown to give the home team lead again.

The Red Devils went three-and-out on their next drive, giving the Warriors a great chance to seize the upper hand. Wisconsin Lutheran took advantage of it, scoring again before the end of the first quarter to make it 21-7.

The maroon and gold defense came up with a fourth-down stop on the Wisconsin Lutheran possession, setting up another Bernabei scoring drive. The Red Devils went 73 yards on nine plays and finished with a five-yard touchdown run by the junior.

Wisconsin Lutheran answered to make it a three-score game, then another Bernabei touchdown briefly cut it to two. Unfortunately for the Red Devils, DuPree ran back the ensuing kickoff to make it 34-19 with about a minute and a half remaining in the half.

The Red Devils quickly moved the ball up the field, with a 13-yard pickup by Tinkham on 4th and 8 putting EC at the 3 and with a chance to trim the lead before halftime.

Instead, a Tinkham pass went incomplete on first down, a catch by Bradford was called out of bounds on second and a Bernabei plunge into the end zone resulted in a half-ending fumble on third. Eureka came up empty and went into halftime trailing 34-19.

Eureka turned the ball over on its first two drives of the second half while Wisconsin Lutheran scored on its first three drives, making it 55-19.

A 15-yard touchdown run by Bernabei with 1:34 left in the third quarter ended the Eureka drought and made it 55-27.

In the fourth, Nathan Ewaskowitz returned a Tinkham interception for a score, Bernabei completed an 11-play, 63-yard drive with a one-yard score and Tinkham connected with Hill for a 43-yard touchdown reception.

Next week, Eureka (2-6, 2-4 Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference) will be back home at McKinzie Field to take on Lakeland (6-1, 4-1 NACC). Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.