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FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL

JOINING FORCES - Eureka's Jared Farney (No. 54) with assistance from teammates Hunter Gladson (No. 34) and Thomas Cahill (No. 58) bring down Tremont ballcarrier Caiden Buster on Oct. 4 at McCollum Field. The Hornets won 41-6 to wrap up a fourth consecutive playoff bid (Provided photo).

EUREKA – The six touchdowns the Eureka football team scored on Oct. 4 when for a total of just four minutes and 53 seconds.

Tremont must have felt as if mosquitoes kept repeatedly biting them.

The Heart of Illinois Conference crossover hosts turned a tight game into a laugher with a 41-6 victory at McCollum Field to clinch a fourth consecutive postseason berth.

“The program is going in the right direction,” said Hornets’ coach Jason Bachman after his squad officially became part of the 256-team field. “Two reasons, first, our kids are buying into our system. Second, my assistants are as good as any staff in Central Illinois. All of them have done a great job.”

Eureka (6-1) scored 41 unanswered points, including three touchdowns in a span of eight minutes and 38 seconds.

Junior quarterback Matt Martin rumbled 89 yards down the left sideline to paydirt for a TD. Cade Gold’s point after up to 14-6 with five minutes and two seconds left in the third quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, the Turks (4-3) fumbled and Eureka’s Elijah Skutt recovered it at the Tremont 15. The two-play drive was capped off by Martin’s 11-yard pass to Reuben Roberts. Gold added the kick for a 21-6 advantage.

“That is what turned the game around,” Bachman stated. “We got the TD and then the big hit, which caused the fumble. Being able to punch it in was a huge turning point. From there, we turned it back on. Our offense woke up.”

Hunter Gladson (13 carries, 81 yards), Martin and Isaac Ferguson each tacked on TD runs. Martin tallied 11 rushes for 121 yards, as the Hornets amassed 237 as a team.

Eureka’s defense limited the Turks to 61 yards of total offense in the second half. Nathan Hately snuck in from a yard out late in the first half for the guests’ only TD.

The Turks were short-handed over the second 24 minutes, as leading rusher Caiden Buster was carted off MF with a lower back injury after the fumble on the kickoff, while top receiver and punter Landon Pflederer was out with a rib injury,

“(Defensive coordinator) Eric (Seim) talked about that bend, but do not break philosophy,” commented Bachman. “We did a nice job outside of that long run by No. 13 (Clayton Liggett).”

On a third-down and three from the Eureka 44, Liggett jetted 43 yards to the one to set up the Hately plunge. The guests’ other 41 rushes went for a collective 109 yards.

Having rarely had to operate the two-minute offense, the Hornets executed it flawlessly late in the second quarter. They went on a six-play, 61-yard scoring drive that lasted 63 seconds. Martin hooked up with Aden Sears from 20 yards out with 52 seconds left. Gold’s kick put the hosts on top 7-6.

“It’s something we practice a lot,” Bachman said. “We practice it more in the summer. They moved it very efficiently. We scored with a lot of time left.”

The Hornets finished with 364 yards of total offense.

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