LISLE, Ill. – Eureka College junior wideout Matt Dawson (Goodfield, Ill./Eureka H.S.) hauled in his first career touchdown reception midway through the second quarter, but host Benedictine racked up 502 yards of total offense and scored five unanswered touchdowns to close the game en route to a 45-7 season-opening victory over the Red Devils at the Village of Lisle-Benedictine University Sports Complex, Saturday night in Lisle, Ill.
After the first three possessions of the game yielded punts, Benedictine junior kicker L.J. Stolarski pushed the hosts to a 3-0 lead when his 31-yard field goal capped an 11-play scoring drive for the Eagles with 31 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Eagles made it 10-0 on their next possession. After Eureka's third consecutive drive to start the night ended in a punt, the Eagles drove 68 yards on eight plays and scored on John Borsellino's 13-yard run for the two-possession lead. The junior running back carried three times for 47 yards on the scoring drive.
Eureka answered quickly, needing only three plays to deliver its first touchdown of the 2011 season. On the first play of the drive, junior quarterback Sam Durley (Roanoke, Ill./Roanoke-Benson H.S.) found senior wide receiver Cody Myers (Ipava, Ill./V.I.T. H.S.) with a 41-yard completion to get deep into Benedictine territory. After a run play proved unsuccessful, Dawson snagged his first career touchdown on a 25-yard toss from Durley, cutting the Benedictine lead to 10-7 with 9:34 left before halftime.
The Eagles looked poised to stretch their lead back to 10 later in the quarter, but BU senior quarterback Matt Brown was picked off by Eureka senior cornerback Rosney Beverly (Los Angeles, Calif./Normal West H.S.) at the Eureka 24-yard line with only 74 seconds left before halftime, effectively ending Benedictine's threat. But the Eagles regained the momentum just three plays later when Andrew Taylor returned an interception 33 yards for a touchdown with only 23 seconds left in the half to give the hosts a 17-7 lead at intermission.
The second half began on a sour note for the Red Devils after John Alessi returned the opening kickoff 59 yards down to the Eureka 13-yard line. Facing 4th-and-1 at the Eureka 4-yard line, Borsellino picked up three yards for a first down and punched in his second score of the game on the next play for a 24-7 advantage. The two sides traded punts over the next three possessions before an 82-yard completion from Brown to Brandin Austin pushed the Eagles in front 31-7 and broke the game wide open.
Borsellino scored his third touchdown of the game late in the third quarter on a 73-yard run. Brown finished the scoring early in the fourth when he broke free for a 49-yard touchdown run with 10:56 left in regulation. The Eagles outscored the Red Devils 28-0 in the second half, scoring on four of their six possessions after halftime. Six of Eureka's eight second-half possessions ended in a punt, and its longest drive of the half (six plays, 43 yards) ended on a turnover on downs late in the third quarter at the Benedictine 27-yard line.
Myers set new career-highs with four catches and a team-best 76 receiving yards. Dawson matched a career-best with four catches. Durley ended his night 12-for-30 for 153 yards and a touchdown, and his 12-yard completion to Myers in the first quarter pushed him over 2,500 passing yards for his career.
Defensively, senior free safety Mike Minehan (Washington, Ill./Washington H.S./McKendree) made 13 stops, including a game-high six solo tackles, to lead the Eureka defense. He also returned four kickoffs for 63 yards.
Borsellino led a potent Benedictine offense with 194 rushing yards on 26 carries. The Eagles ran the ball 45 times for the game, compiling 318 yards and four scores total. Brown completed only seven passes for 184 yards and his touchdown to Austin.
Eureka will be off next weekend and will have two full weeks to prepare for its home opener against Crown at McKinzie Field on Sept. 17. The game against the Purple Storm is Eureka's first of nine consecutive contests against Upper Midwest Athletic Conference opponents in 2011.
NOTES: Kickoff was delayed after severe weather came through Lisle shortly before 7 p.m. ... The Red Devils blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt from BU's Billy Dixon in the second quarter ... Beverly's interception was the sixth of his career and leads all active Eureka players ... The Eureka defense held Benedictine to 1-for-11 on third down ... Durley set a career-high with 10 rushing attempts ... Eureka's offense failed to reach the red zone ... Benedictine held possession for more than 11 minutes in the second quarter ... The Eagles accumulated 111 yards in penalties, the first Eureka opponent to reach the century mark since St. Scholastica was penalized for 108 yards on Oct. 30, 2009 ... Freshman running backs Jake Ferguson (Metamora, Ill./Metamora H.S.), Jeff Petersen (East Peoria, Ill./East Peoria H.S.) and Patrick Simms (Tremont, Ill./Tremont H.S.) each recorded their first career rushing attempt ... Eureka is now 1-3 all-time against Northern Athletics Conference members since the league formed in 2006 ... Eureka is now 1-6 on artificial turf under Kurt Barth ... The Red Devils have now lost 17 consecutive non-conference road games.