Eureka football loses in finale
Eureka College senior quarterback Sam Durley (Roanoke/Roanoke-Benson H.S.) threw for 236 yards in his final collegiate game to go over 8,000 passing yards for his four-year career, but MacMurray quarterback Cody Hussey racked up 415 yards of total offense and had a hand in all four MC touchdowns in the Highlanders' 29-14 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference victory over the Red Devils, Saturday afternoon at Pete FioRito Stadium at McKinzie Field.
After the first three series of the afternoon ended in punts, the visitors struck midway through the first quarter for a 7-0 advantage. Hussey's 65-yard completion to DeJohn Randle was the big blow of the drive, pulling the Highlanders out of their own territory and into the Eureka red zone. Four plays later on third-and-goal, Hussey hit Deshonta Smallwood with an 8-yard touchdown pass to cap the 7-play, 90-yard drive with 5:39 left in the opening quarter.
The Highlanders pushed their lead to two possessions early in the second quarter, putting together the longest scoring drive of the day. After Eureka senior Jordan Jefferson (Normal /Normal West H.S.) booted a 33-yard punt to pin MC at their own 3-yard-line, the Highlanders covered 95 yards on 12 plays before the drive stalled at Eureka's 2-yard-line. Taylor Hosta connected on a 19-yard field goal attempt to give MacMurray a 10-0 lead with 13:35 left in the half.
Facing the two-score deficit, the Red Devils punted on their next three drives. The Eureka defense kept its deficit at 10, forcing a punt, getting the first career interception from freshman Robert Gilliam (Cornell/Flanagan-Cornell H.S.) and surviving a missed 34-yard field goal attempt from Braden Huftess in the closing moments of the half. MC carried its 10-0 lead into intermission.
A MacMurray special teams miscue gave the Red Devils excellent field position early in the third quarter, as Smallwood bobbled a fair catch attempt on Jefferson's punt at MC's 25-yard-line, allowing Gilliam to pounce on the loose ball. With a short field, the Red Devils drove inside the 10-yard-line, but Raymond Smith intercepted Durley inside the end zone on third down, returning the pick 34 yards to thwart Eureka's best threat of the day at that point. The Highlanders maintained their claim on the 10-0 lead through the remainder of the third quarter.
Eureka got on the board on the fifth play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter. Aided by another short field after a 22-yard punt from John Brockhouse, Jr., Durley lobbed a deep pass over the middle for senior wide receiver Jordan Kindred (Chrisman/Chrisman H.S.), who snagged the ball amidst heavy coverage in the end zone for a 49-yard score. The extra point from senior kicker Travis Huber (Morton/Morton H.S.) made the score 10-7 with 14:03 left in the game.
The Highlanders pushed their advantage back to two possessions on the very next drive. MC converted twice on third down during the series and got its second touchdown of the day when Hussey hit Zach Mudd with a 6-yard touchdown throw. Hosta's extra point was blocked, allowing Eureka sophomore defensive back Christian Watson (Eureka/Eureka H.S.) to scoop up the loose ball for a potential 2-point return, but the Highlanders recovered to bring down Watson inside MC's 10-yard-line and preserve their two-possession lead.
Howard Glover intercepted Durley on the third play of the next series to setup MacMurray's next scoring drive. Hussey found Smallwood for the second time of the afternoon just two plays later, a 27-yard strike to give the Highlanders are 22-7 lead with 7:58 left.
Eureka bounced back with yet another scoring drive. Durley completed five passes on the 12-play drive, helping EC convert on third down twice before his 2-yard touchdown sneak on fourth down pulled the Red Devils back within a single possession, 22-14, with 4:50 left in the game.
MacMurray put the contest away on the next series, chewing more than three minutes off the clock and forcing Eureka to use all of its timeouts. Hussey capped the drive when he broke free on a quarterback draw up the middle of the field for a 44-yard touchdown run and a 29-14 lead with 1:52 left in the game.
Durley finished the day 18-for-43 for 236 yards and a touchdown. He finished his senior campaign with 207 completions, narrowly missing John Furmaniak's 1995 single-season Eureka record of 210. His 401 attempts in 2012 broke his own single-season Eureka record of 390 set last season, while his 2,803 passing yards were a personal single-season high and third-most in program history. Durley finished his 39-game career Saturday 572-for-1,141 for 8,162 yards and 61 touchdowns. Each total is an all-time Eureka record.
Kindred led all players Saturday with 11 catches for 151 yards. Playing organized football for the first time in 2012, Kindred made 64 catches, tied for fourth-most in single-season Eureka history and most ever by a newcomer. His 928 receiving yards in 2012 ranked seventh in single-season program history and were the most by a newcomer since current head coach Kurt Barth compiled 1,011 yards as a freshman in 1994.
Huber made both of his extra point tries on Saturday, bumping his final career point total to 168, fifth-most in program history. He leaves the program as Eureka's all-time leader in field goals (20) and extra points (108).
Freshman Zach McCoy (Champaign/Centennial H.S.) led Eureka's ground game Saturday with 82 yards on 16 carries. He closed the campaign with 184 rushing attempts, 10th-most in school history.
Defensively, junior linebacker Jacob Carls (El Paso/El Paso-Gridley H.S.) set a new career-high with 18 tackles Saturday. Senior strong safety Murad Abbed (Danville/Bismarck-Henning H.S.) also set a new personal-best with 12 stops in his final collegiate game.
Hussey threw for 281 yards and ran for an additional 134 yards to pace MacMurray on Saturday. Patrick Hall added 125 rushing yards on a game-high 33 carries, while Smallwood and Randle each made six catches. The Highlanders compiled 539 yards of total offense, the most yards allowed by the Red Devils this season.
Eureka said goodbye to 13 seniors during a pregame ceremony on the field, including nine Red Devils that were a part of the first recruiting class for fourth-year head coach Kurt Barth in 2009. The Red Devils closed the season with 4-6 overall record and a 3-5 UMAC mark to finish fifth in the nine-team conference.
NOTES: Eureka is now 10-18 all-time against MacMurray and 6-9 against the Highlanders at McKinzie Field. The two squads have met every season since 1985, Eureka's longest active rivalry ... Durley's 49-yard touchdown throw to Kindred in the fourth quarter was his longest completion since opening day at Knox ... Eureka's 137 kick return yards were a season-high ... MacMurray ran 86 plays, the most by a Eureka opponent this season ... Eureka did not commit a penalty on offense or defense for the first time under Barth.