EUREKA – While it not might have been a perfect 10 performance, it was a 9.75 for Eureka.
The Hornets scored on each of their first five offensive possessions on Oct. 27 in a 54-6 win over Chicago Urban Prep/Englewood in the opening round of the three A football playoffs at McCollum Field.
After winning the coin toss and electing to receive, Eureka (9-2) took less than two minutes to find the end zone, as they went six plays and 87 yards.
“I thought that first drive was huge to set the tone,” pointed out Hornets’ coach Jason Bachman. “We talked all week about execution, execution, execution. We felt like if we could execute what we do, we felt like we’d have a good outcome. It worked in our favor.
“That was key for us,” continued Bachman of doing early damage. “We felt like we’re getting the ball to start. We need to set the tone early.”
Matt Martin put an exclamation mark on the drive with a four-yard TD run.
He later tacked on a score from a yard out, while seniors Joel Baer and Asher Wiegand had rushing TDs, as the Hornets enjoyed a 33-0 lead midway through the second period.
Martin finished with 15 carries for 127 yards, as Eureka piled up 274 on the ground. On the day, they averaged eight yards per carry, which seemingly could have allowed them to not throw the ball at all.
“Maybe not, but going back with what we’ve done all year, we’ve had to have some relevance of balance playing in the HOIC (Heart of Illinois Conference),” Bachman explained. “That’s a reason why we’re 9-1. Big plays are great, but we wanted to establish the run.”
While the offense rolled up 434 yards, the defense was just as dominant, as they held the Lions (5-5) to 95 yards. Of the 34 plays the guests ran, 19 went for no gain or negative yards.
“Our defense played lights out,” commented Bachman. “(Defensive coordinator) Eric (Seim) had a great plan. They did what we coach them to do. They had gap responsibility, stayed low and swarmed to the football.”
Hunter Gladson’s 10-yard TD and Cade Gold’s kick in the third upped the score to 40-0, which triggered a running clock the rest of the way.
“The thing that’s most impressive (about Eureka) is their discipline,” stated CUP/E coach Dedrick DeWalt. “There’s not a lot of teams we see that are so disciplined. They are not only disciplined, but they are talented, too.”
The Lions avoided a shutout in the fourth when backup quarterback Cordell Lott fired a 36-yard TD to D’Anthony Weathersby.
For the hosts, it was their first playoff win since 1985. In the process, it also snapped a string of 10 consecutive first round exits.
“I did not experience all 10 of them, but I have the last two,” Bachman said. “To get a home game like this and have the community and school come out was awesome. An all-around team effort. I’m proud of all of them.”
Notes: This was the first meeting between the programs. The Lions were held to a single first down in the opening half, while Eureka had 12. The Hornets outgained CUP/E 284 to 19. Martin completed seven of 11 passes for 160 yards. The three turnovers the hosts forced ups their total to 19 takeaways on the season compared to only six giveaways.