GALESBURG — Eureka College senior quarterback Sam Durley (Roanoke/Roanoke-Benson H.S.) broke an NCAA single-game record with 736 passing yards, one of six school records broken on Sept. 1, helping the Red Devils come from behind for a 62-55 non-conference victory over Knox in the inaugural Abraham Lincoln Bowl at the Knosher Bowl in Galesburg.
Durley’s effort broke the previous single-game record of 731 yards held by Menlo’s Zamir Amin on Oct. 7, 2000.
Durley finished the game 34-for-52 with five touchdown passes, including a pair of strikes to junior wideout Jake Bane (Dana/Fieldcrest H.S./Monmouth) in the final two minutes of the game to cap a run of 17 unanswered points by the Red Devils.
Durley’s final touchdown pass, a 13-yard toss to Bane with 20 seconds remaining, gave the Red Devils their first lead of the afternoon that eventually held up as the final 62-55 score.
In addition to the single-game NCAA record, Durley broke Eureka’s all-time passing yardage, attempts and passing touchdown records on Saturday. The senior now has 6,095 career passing yards, 792 attempts and 48 touchdowns.
Each mark bested the previous record held by Durley’s former teammate Nick Lindsey (2006-09).
Durley is the first Red Devil in program history to throw for 6,000 yards.
Durley’s effort allowed Bane and newcomer Jordan Kindred (Chrisman/Chrisman H.S.) to compile two of the top receiving performances in program history.
Kindred, playing his first organized football game of any kind on Saturday, hauled in 13 balls for 235 yards. The 13 catches were the third-most catches in a game by a Red Devil in program history, while the 235 yards marked the fourth-best performance in school history.
Bane made seven catches for 207 yards. The yardage total marked the ninth-highest single-game total in school history.
As a team, Eureka rolled up 821 yards of total offense, besting the previous school record of 744 set versus Crown on Nov. 7, 2009.
In all, the game featured 1,290 yards of total offense and 60 first downs.
Eureka’s 62-point effort was the fifth-highest single-game point total in the 109-season history of the program.
Knox opened the scoring less than three minutes into the game, taking only six plays from scrimmage to cover 59 yards for an early touchdown.
KC quarterback Drew Diaz ran for the 8-yard score. After a Eureka punt and the first career interception for Eureka junior linebacker Frankie Bray (Ottawa/Barron-Collier H.S.), the Red Devils evened the score at 7-7 on Durley’s 36-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Matt Dawson (Goodfield/Eureka H.S.).
Knox regained the lead before the end of the quarter, 14-7, Derek Mortensen plunged in from a yard away with 1:30 left.
Page 2 of 3 - Each squad scored three touchdowns in the second quarter. The visitors evened the score at 14-14 on the first career touchdown run for freshman Zach McCoy (Champaign/Centennial H.S.), a 6-yard score to end an 8-play, 70-yard drive. After another Knox score, Durley found Bane with an 86-yard touchdown pass, the longest scoring play of Durley’s 30-game career and the first career touchdown for Bane.
Eureka later tied the game for the fourth time in the first half when Durley hooked with Dawson again, this time from 29 yards out, to tie the game at 28-28 with 42 seconds left in the half.
The touchdown appeared to send the game to intermission tied at 28-28, but Knox return man Mike Schroeder returned the ensuing kickoff 79 yards to regain the lead. Phil Tallman’s extra point missed, giving the Prairie Fire a 34-28 lead at halftime.
The Red Devils continued their scoring spree shortly after halftime when senior kicker Travis Huber (Morton/Morton H.S.) booted a 34-yard field goal at the 12:03 mark of the third quarter.
The successful try gave Huber 14 career field goals to give him sole possession of the all-time program record for field goals made. Huber had previously shared the record of 13 with Rick Edwards (1986-88).
Following Huber’s kick, Knox took its largest lead of the afternoon, 41-31, after a 44-yard touchdown scamper by Cort Scheel. The 4-play drive covered 63 yards and took only 108 seconds. Eureka and Knox went on to trade touchdowns on the next three possessions, including a pair of 1-yards scores by McCoy. Knox led 48-45 at the end of the frame.
Knox pushed its lead back to two possessions, 55-45, on Mortensen’s 1-yard run with 12:43 to play in regulation. Eureka answered with Huber’s second field goal of the day from 21 yards away, trimming the deficit to 55-48 with 9:42 left. The Eureka defense forced a turnover on downs on the next KC possession. The Red Devils were poised to tie the game on their next offensive series, but a lost fumble in the Knox red zone ended the threat with 3:48 remaining.
Faced with another uphill climb and all three timeouts remaining, the Eureka defense forced a three-and-out deep in Knox territory. A 37-yard punt with 2:32 left in the game gave the visitors possession at Knox’s 47-yard line. Durley carried the load on the next series, completing three passes for 11 yards or more, including a 13-yard strike to Bane for a 55-55 tie with 1:44 to play.
The Eureka defense shined yet again on the next Knox possession, getting a three-and-out that took only 24 seconds off the clock. A 29-yard punt from Knox with gave Durley and Red Devils 71 seconds to cover 72 yards with no timeouts remaining. Eureka was up to the task, as Durley’s 40-yard completion to Bane proved to be the big blow of the drive.
Page 3 of 3 - Three plays later, Durley hooked up with Bane for the second time in less than two minutes, a 13-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the game-winning score.
McCoy, starting the first game of his collegiate career, carried 26 times for 88 yards and three scores. Junior receiver Cody Followell (Forrest/Prarie Central H.S.) also had a big day, making six catches for 79 yards, while Dawson set a new career-high with 91 receiving yards. Junior linebacker Drew Duffy (Flanagan/Flanagan-Cornell H.S.) led the EC defense with 12 total tackles, followed closely by senior strong safety Murad Abbed (Danville/Bismarck-Henning H.S.) with 10 stops.
Mortensen paced the Prairie Fire with 140 rushing yards. Diaz threw for 169 yards through the air. The contest featured only three punts.
Eureka’s victory secured ownership of the Abraham Lincoln Bowl traveling trophy, a bronze bust of young Lincoln that will be awarded to the winner of each game in the series.
NOTES: Eureka is now 6-16-1 all-time against Knox and 40-68-4 against current members of the Midwest Conference ... Eureka has earned consecutive victories over Knox for the first time since 1991 ... The decision marked Eureka’s first season-opening victory on the road since beating Bethel (Tenn.), 26-20, on Sept. 5, 1998 ... Sophomore receiver Jake Rutherford (McLean/Olympia H.S.) made two catches for 39 yards in his first career game ... Freshman running back Mike Alberty (Streator/Woodland H.S.) carried five times for 14 yards in his collegiate debut ... Senior free safety Ethan Lord (Dupo/Dupo H.S./Iowa Wesleyan) picked off Knox’s last gasp with one second remaining for his first career interception.