EUREKA — Initially, the Eureka College football team sputtered in Saturday’s homecoming game at Pete FioRito Stadium. Three handoffs left the Red Devils a yard short of a first down at their own 39-yard line.
Tanner Kuhne took his position in punt formation and received the long snap. But instead of kicking the ball away to Westminster College, he sprinted to his right and raced 43 yards upfield, trucking a would-be tackler along the way.
“Once he took off down the sideline and laid that hit on the defender, we all got amped up. That’s where it started rolling,” said senior defensive end Trever Ziebert.
That rolling never stopped. Two plays after Kuhne’s jaunt, LeAnthony Reasnover powered in from the 13 for a touchdown that started Eureka on its path to a 48-6 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference thrashing.
“It was a team effort all around. Offense did their job, defense up front got their job done and we created turnovers. It just makes the day even better to get a big win,” said linebacker Chris Friend, who ran a fumble back for a score and blocked a punt that was recovered in the end zone by teammate Ray Vogel.
With their fourth straight win, the Red Devils improved to 4-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play.
“Every week we’ve got to take that next step,” said Eureka coach Kurt Barth. “Quite honestly we feel we should be 6-0 at this point now; we’ve been the better team every week but we just had some costly turnovers the first two games. Our guys grew from that, put that in the past and started moving forward.”
Eureka totaled 374 yards while holding Westminster (2-4, 2-3) to only 79. Despite being the focal point of the Blue Jays’ defense, Reasnover ran for 108 yards on 23 carries to bring his season rushing total to 860.
The Red Devils exploited Westminster’s attention to him on their second series. On second down with the rain pelting McKinzie Field, quarterback Drew Barth faked a handoff and threw a quick strike to Dom Parks, who outran the defense for a 62-yard touchdown.
Blue Jays quarterback Trent White answered by driving his team to the Eureka 16 before another play backfired. Running left on an option, White's toss to his tailback wound up in Friend’s hands.
“I was the middle backer there, so my responsibility was the pitch man,” said Friend, who returned the fumble 86 yards for a 21-0 lead. “It ended up going off his helmet and right into my arms and the rest is in the record books, I guess.”
The Red Devils tacked on three TDs in the second quarter, beginning with a 20-yard pass to Fisher product Drayton Purvis. Ziebert got in on the action when he lined up at tight end on fourth-and-goal from the 2 and made a sliding catch of a Nick Holman toss.
“I’ve always asked to play tight end, bugging Coach Barth kind of as a joke for fun,” said Ziebert. “It worked out on the boot play, he tossed it to me in the flat and through the rain I managed to corral it in.”
With just over two minutes left in the half, Friend got his hand on a Zach Roseman punt and Vogel fell on it for the sixth Eureka TD.
The anticlimactic second half saw Nasir Phillips make it 48-0 with a 5-yard run in the third quarter before the Blue Jays’ Kalyn Davis spoiled the shutout with a 1-yard run in the fourth.
“We made big plays on both sides of the ball,” said Kurt Barth. “Everything that could’ve gone right for us kind of did. It was just one of those days.”