EUREKA, Ill. – Greenville quarterback Brendan Chambers threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Boezeman with 6.6 seconds remaining in Saturday's Upper Midwest Athletic Conference game against the Eureka College football team, overcoming a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Red Devils and lifting the visiting Panthers to a 36-33 come-from-behind victory at McKinzie Field. Eureka junior quarterback Sam Durley (Roanoke, Ill./Roanoke-Benson H.S.) broke his own school record with 35 completions in the loss.
Chambers found Boezeman in the end zone with the game-winning touchdown throw, capping a 10-play, 53-yard drive that took only 70 seconds. The big blow of the drive was a 23-yard catch by Tyrik Scott on 4th-and-10 from the Eureka 31-yard line, Scott's only reception of the day. Three plays later on 3rd-and-goal from Eureka's 7-ayrd line, Boezeman snagged the game-winner with only 6.6 seconds remaining.
Greenville's late scoring drive was necessary because of an improbable fourth-quarter rally by the Red Devils. Eureka scored three touchdowns in a span of 5-minutes, 17-seconds late in the game to overcome a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit.
The Red Devils started their rally midway through the final quarter, marching 63 yards on 13 plays in 3:36 to cut its deficit to nine (28-19) when Durley found senior wide receiver Wes Schmidgall (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S./Culver-Stockton) with 6:37 left in the contest. Eureka's ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Panthers, but Greenville gave the ball back with 2:48 left in regulation when Josh Frewin's 31-yard field goal missed wide to the left.
Trailing by nine points with less than three minutes to play, Durley completed four consecutive passes for 80 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown throw to Schmidgall with 2:01 remaining to cut Greenville's advantage to 28-26. The 4-play, 80-yard drive took only 47 seconds.
With no timeouts remaining, Eureka junior kicker Travis Huber (Morton, Ill./Morton H.S.) was forced to try another onside kick. The Red Devils were successful in their second attempt, as Chambers lost a handle on the bouncing ball at the Eureka 45-yard line, allowing Eureka junior Jordan Jefferson (Normal, Ill./Normal West H.S.) to swoop in and recover the loose ball. With newfound hope and mounting momentum, Eureka took its first lead since the first quarter when Durley hooked up with Schmidgall for a third time with a 29-yard score for a 33-28 advantage with 1:20 remaining in the game. Durley covered allof the yardage on the brief scoring drive, completing three passes for 55 yards in just 37 seconds.
After Schmidgall's third touchdown catch, the visitors put together their game-winning scoring drive in the final 80 seconds. Greenville converted twice on third down during the drive, including Chambers's touchdown throw to Boezeman. Eureka had one final gasp, but Durley's desperation heave from 42 yards into the end zone as time expired was intercepted by Greenville's John Smith.
Eureka opened the scoring midway through the first quarter. Sophomore wide receiver Cody Followell (Forrest, Ill./Prairie Central H.S.) grabbed his second career touchdown pass with 6:35 remaining in the first quarter, a 20-yard toss from Durley for a 7-0 lead. Eureka had a short field on the scoring drive after EC junior strong safety Murad Abbed (Danville, Ill./Bismarck-Henning H.S.) forced and recovered a Chambers fumble at Greenville's 33-yard line.
Greenville needed only one play from scrimmage to force a 7-7 tie. Chambers kept the ball on an option play to the Eureka sideline, sprinting 60 yards for a touchdown with 6:20 remaining in the first quarter. After the Panthers' defense forced a three-and-out on the ensuing EC possession, Chambers found Demontrez Simington with a 58-yard touchdown throw down the middle of the field to give the visitors a 14-7 advantage with 3:23 left in the opening quarter.
Eureka answered on the first play from scrimmage in the second quarter when Durley capped an 8-play scoring drive and threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to senior Alex Hess (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.). The extra point was unsuccessful, leaving Greenville with a 14-13 advantage that held up as the halftime score.
Greenville received the opening kickoff of the second half and promptly stretched its lead with its third touchdown drive of the afternoon. The drive took 11 plays and chewed 4-minutes, 53-seconds off the clock before Bobby Hughley's 2-yard touchdown plunge pushed the Panthers in front, 21-13.
A Eureka turnover followed by the two squads trading four punts set the stage for another Greenville scoring drive. Chambers broke free for another lengthy touchdown run, this one being a 54-yard score with 10:19 left in the game to give the Panthers a 28-13 advantage. At this point, the Red Devils answered with their three consecutive touchdown drives before Greenville won the game in the final minute.
Durley went 35-for-56 for 465 yard and five touchdowns, as his 35 completions shattered his own school record of 28 set last month at Presentation. His favorite target was Schmidgall, who set new career-bests with 18 receptions for 273 yards. Schmidgall narrowly missed matching Eureka's program records of 20 receptions and 289 receiving yards, both marks held by current EC head coach Kurt Barth. Schmidgall's 273 receiving yards on Saturday were the most by a Division III player in a single game in 2011.
Eureka senior free safety Mike Minehan (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./McKendree) turned in a solid outing for the defense, making 19 total tackles and recording two pass breakups. Sophomore linebacker Stew McGinnis (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S./Millikin) recorded his best collegiate game, setting career-highs with 13 total tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss. His tackle for loss total was the most by a Eureka defender since Minehan made 2.5 tackles for loss against Minnesota-Morris on Sept. 25, 2010. Jefferson gave Eureka a boost on special teams, booming seven punts for an average of 41.6 yards per kick.
Chambers, who entered Saturday's contest as the reigning UMAC Offensive Player of the Week, carried 20 times for 191 yards and two touchdowns while completing seven passes for 157 yards and an additional two touchdowns. Hughley gave the Panthers two 100-yard rushers with 108 yards on a game-high 24 carries.
The Red Devils will make their third trip to the state of Minnesota in October this Saturday. Eureka will travel to Minneapolis, Minn. for a 4 p.m. kickoff against Northwestern (Minn.) as part of the UMAC's 12th annual Dome Day in the Metrodome.
NOTES: The Panthers now lead the all-time series 16-9 and are 9-4 at McKinzie Field ... Eureka has now lost nine in row to Greenville since 2003 ... Eureka's defeat snaps a four-game home winning streak, the Red Devils' longest since 1995 ... The Red Devils picked up 21 of their 23 first downs through the air.