JACKSONVILLE, Ill. – The Eureka College football team's losing streak reached four games on Saturday, as MacMurray handed the Red Devils a 40-21 Upper Midwest Athletic Conference defeat at Freesen Field in Jacksonville, Ill. The loss drops the Red Devils to 4-5 overall and 4-4 in the UMAC in 2011.
After MacMurray (1-8, 1-7 UMAC) jumped to a 6-0 advantage on Brian Clay's 2-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, Eureka recorded its first safety since Nov. 13, 2010 to pull within 6-2 with 11:23 left before halftime. The hosts stretched their lead to 18-2 later in the first half with Cody Hussey touchdown throws to Jorian Clemons and Desh Smallwood.
The Red Devils (4-5, 4-4 UMAC) cut into MacMurray's lead in the final minute before halftime when junior receiver Matt Dawson (Goodfield, Ill./Eureka H.S.) collected his fourth career touchdown pass from junior quarterback Sam Durley (Roanoke, Ill./Roanoke-Benson H.S.), a 15-yard catch that trimmed Eureka's deficit to 18-15.
Eureka continued its comeback in the third quarter when the Red Devils put together their longest scoring drive of the season, an 18-play, 95-yard series that took 8-minutes, 9-seconds and culminated in a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Eureka senior Alex Hess (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S.). Eureka converted on third down on three different occasions during the drive, and Durley's 8-yard completion to Dawson on 4th-and-5 at MacMurray's 16-yard line also allowed the drive to continue. The score by Hess trimmed MacMurray's lead to 18-15 with 2:26 left in the third quarter.
The Highlanders pushed their lead back to two possessions on the second play from scrimmage in the fourth quarter when Hussey connected with Smallwood again with a 45-yard touchdown pass, pushing MacMurray to a 25-15 advantage. After a three-and-out by Eureka on the next series, Hussey completed his fourth touchdown throw of the afternoon with a 54-yard completion to Damon Byrd for a 33-15 lead with 11:29 left in the game. The process repeated itself on the next two possessions, as another three-and-out by the Red Devils was followed by another lengthy scoring play when Hussey hit Da'Marcus Austin with an 82-yard touchdown throw to put the game away for the hosts.
Eureka senior Wes Schimdgall (Eureka, Ill./Eureka H.S./Culver-Stockton) closed the scoring with a 50-yard touchdown reception from Durley with 7:17 remaining to cut MacMurray's lead to 40-21. The touchdown catch was his 15th of the season. Eureka would recover its ensuing onside kick, but the Highlanders would eventually hold on to send the Red Devils to their fourth consecutive loss.
Hess caught six balls from Durley for 103 yards, his first career 100-yard receiving game. Durley finished the day 18-for-39 for 267 yards, but was sacked five times. Eureka sophomore Corey Dawson (Farmington, Ill./Farmington H.S.) ran 21 times for 53 yards to lead a group of five EC running backs.
Hussey threw for 381 yards and five scores, while Austin matched Hess for game-high honors with 103 receiving yards. The Highlanders also picked up 142 yards on the ground, led by Hussey with 45 yards on 11 carries.
Eureka will close the 2011 season next Saturday at noon when the Red Devils host UMAC regular season champion St. Scholastica (9-0, 8-0 UMAC) at McKinzie Field. The Red Devils will host their annual Senior Day ceremony prior to kickoff.