SETTING THE STAGE
The Eureka College football team will put its unbeaten Upper Midwest Athletic Conference record and four-game winning streak on the line this Saturday when the Red Devils travel to Minnesota-Morris for a 1 p.m. UMAC kickoff against the Cougars at Big Cat Stadium in Morris, Minn.
Eureka extended its longest winning streak in 16 years with a 31-21 conference victory at Martin Luther last Saturday in New Ulm, Minn. The victory improved the Red Devils, picked to finish eighth in the UMAC according to a preseason coaches' poll, to 4-1 overall and 4-0 in UMAC play.
Last Saturday, the Red Devils rallied from a second-half deficit for the second time in as many games, as it was Sam Durley's 23-yard touchdown pass to Wes Schmidgall in the final minute of the third quarter that erased a four-point deficit pushed Eureka to its fourth straight victory.
The Red Devils continue to lead the 10-team UMAC in passing offense (304.0), pass defense efficiency (99.5), net punting average (35.1), first downs allowed (14.8) and third down conversions allowed (25.0%). Additionally, Eureka's passing offense ranks 15th nationally in Division III.
Following Eureka's win last weekend, the Red Devils have moved into the league lead in passing defense (144.4) and third down conversions (49.4 %).
After opening the 2011 campaign with consecutive victories over MacMurray and Martin Luther, the Cougars have dropped four straight contests to fall to 2-4 overall and 2-3 against UMAC opponents. The Cougars are yielding 39.5 points per game during their current skid.
The Cougars, picked to finish third this season by league coaches after tying for a third-place finish in 2010, will pose a challenge for Eureka's potent aerial attack. Minnesota-Morris allows only 158.2 passing yards per game, trailing the Red Devils as the second-ranked passing defense in the UMAC.
Minnesota-Morris is a public university with an enrollment of nearly 2,000 students founded in Morris, Minn. in 1960.
THE HEAD COACHES
Eureka College athletics Hall of Famer Kurt Barth is currently in his third season as the head coach of the Red Devils in 2011.
Since being hired as the 12th head coach in program history in December 2008, Barth has rejuvenated the EC football program and installed one of the most prolific passing offenses in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference and all of NCAA Division III.
Barth picked up his 10th career victory last Saturday, passing Darrell Crouch (2000-04) for eighth place on the all-time Eureka list. Through Barth's first 25 games as head coach, his .400 winning percentage trails only Tom Hosier (.500), John Tully (.596) and Nick Fletcher (.551) in Eureka football coaching history.
Todd Hickman is in his fifth season as the head coach at Minnesota-Morris, posting an 18-25 record through his first 43 games. Hickman's 2010 squad had a 5-4 overall record, the first winning season for the Cougars under his direction.
Hickman became the 16th head coach at Minnesota-Morris football when he was hired in February 2007. Prior to his appointment as head coach he spent the previous 10 seasons an assistant on the Cougars' staff. His coaching career spans over 20 years and includes stints at NCAA Division II and III colleges, as well as the junior college and high school levels.
THE ALL-TIME SERIES
Minnesota-Morris spoiled Eureka's homecoming game last season when the Cougars scored a 47-29 victory over the Red Devils at McKinzie Field on Sept. 25, 2010, the first all-time meeting between the two schools.
ANOTHER NEW DESTINATION
With the 2011 campaign marking Eureka's third season as an associate member of the UMAC, Saturday's road trip to Morris marks the Red Devils' first game played at Big Cat Stadium, the home field of Minnesota-Morris.
Big Cat Stadium, opened in 2006, features synthetic turf. Eureka is 1-1 on turf in 2011 and 2-6 on the surface since 2009.
Eureka has made visits to seven of its nine UMAC opponents since joining the league in 2009. Northwestern (Minn.) is the only other team yet to host the Red Devils, as the 2010 game was played at McKinzie Field and this year's contest will be played in the Metrodome on Oct. 29.
COUGAR SPORTS NETWORK
Eureka fans unable to make the 610-mile trip to west-central Minnesota will be able watch Saturday's game live and follow game statistics in real-time online on the Cougar Sports Network.
The Cougar Sports Network, a free online service from Minnesota-Morris, is available at http://csn.morris.umn.edu/. Saturday's pregame show will begin at 12:45 p.m.
Additionally, EC fans are encouraged to follow the Red Devils on Twitter and "Like" the Red Devils on Facebook for instant updates sent directly to their computer or mobile device. Visit the official Eureka College athletics website for more information and use the hashtag #ecreddevils to join the conversation.
THE BEAT GOES ON
Another week against UMAC competition brought another victory for Eureka, as the Red Devils' 31-21 victory over Martin Luther was Eureka's fourth consecutive triumph.
This season's success can still match the marks set by the 1995 Red Devils. That season, Eureka posted a 9-1 record, including a perfect 6-0 Illini-Badger Football Conference record to win the league title. The Red Devils closed the season with seven straight victories, a streak that eventually stretched to eight in 1996.
Additionally, last Saturday's victory gave Eureka consecutive road victories against conference opponents for the first time since 2008 when the Red Devils won back-to-back St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference road games at Blackburn (26-13) and Principia (47-19). A win Saturday in Morris would give Eureka three consecutive conference road wins for the first time since 1995.
BEVERLY'S SPECIAL TEAMS HONOR
For the second time in his collegiate career, Eureka College senior cornerback Rosney Beverly was named the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Player of the Week, the league office announced last Tuesday. Beverly earned the UMAC's weekly Special Teams award after racking up 85 return yards in the Red Devils' 31-21 UMAC victory at Martin Luther last Saturday.
Beverly's 44-yard punt return early in the fourth quarter was the longest of his career and gave the Red Devils excellent field position on their final scoring drive of the day, a six-play, 21-yard drive that gave the Red Devils a two-possession lead. He also added kick returns of 22 yards and 19 yards on Saturday. Beverly's selection as UMAC Player of the Week marks the fourth consecutive week a Eureka football player has earned weekly honors from the league.
The only four-year member of the Eureka defense, Beverly previously earned UMAC South Division Defensive Player of the Week honors on Oct. 27, 2009 after making six tackles and returning an interception 19 yards for his first career touchdown in a 63-44 victory at MacMurray on Oct. 24, 2009.
DURLEY HITS 4K
With his final completion at Martin Luther, a 16-yard throw to Alex Hess in the fourth quarter, Eureka junior quarterback Sam Durley eclipsed the 4,000-passing yard plateau for his collegiate career.
Durley, who has started 12 consecutive games and 14 of the last 15 contests under center for the Red Devils, has completed 105-of-191 passes in 2011 for 1,520 yards and 17 touchdowns. His 4,010 career passing yards are the most by any active player in the UMAC.
CENTURY MARK FOR DAWSON
Sophomore running back Corey Dawson set new career-highs last weekend at Martin Luther, carrying 25 times for 119 yards. The performance marked the first career 100-yard rushing for the second-year back from Farmington, Ill. He also added his fourth career rushing touchdown with a 4-yard scamper in the fourth quarter to give the Red Devils a two-possession lead.
The 100-yard performance was Eureka's first on the ground since Dawson's current teammate, Ethan Lord, ran for 110 yards at Crown on Oct. 16, 2010.
Dawson's 25 carries were the most by a Red Devil since Nick Lindsey ran 28 times versus Westminster on Oct. 10, 2009 and the most by a Eureka running back since Justin Dempsey got 44 touches at MacMurray on Nov. 3, 2007.
Eureka College seniors Alex Hess, Mike Minehan and Wes Schmidgall have each been selected to the D3PRODAY.com Preseason All-America Third Team, according to an announcement from the website in late August.
D3PRODAY.com is the nation's first and only Division III Pro Day and Combine for seniors after the regular season. D3PRODAY.com Preseason All-Americans represent the board's best seniors in Division III. The selection board is made up of pro scouts, NFL and CFL agents and former NFL coaches and players.
Minnesota-Morris running back Todd Gramenz was the only other player from the UMAC to earn preseason All-America honors from D3PRODAY.com. Gramenz has carried 90 times for 368 yards and five touchdowns in six games this season. The St. Paul, Minn. native was named UMAC Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 5.