Week 6 Gamer | Eureka 31, Marquette 7 – Click here for the REPlay …
Eureka could’ve laid down against Marquette last Saturday night.
After everything this team, school and community had been through over the past week, no one would’ve blamed them.
As Marquette glided through Eureka’s defense for a touchdown on its opening drive, the game was heading in an ugly direction. And it appeared Eureka had no answers.
Then, something special—almost surreal—happened. Driven by raw emotion, the Wildcats came together, rallied from an early seven-point deficit and scored 31 unanswered points to cap the win.
It was more than a team win, according to Eureka head coach Farrell Shelton. It wasn’t all about football.
“It’s what makes Eureka such a classic community school,” Shelton said following his team’s third straight win. “I was very proud.”
Eureka’s first possession was spoiled by two penalties. An illegal block in the back and an illegal procedure forced the Wildcats to punt from deep inside their own territory.
Brett Geisz’s rugby-style punt took a Marquette bounce and settled at the Eureka 48 yard line, where the Mustangs took over. Jack Whitworth’s 25-yard rush set up Demarko Johnson’s 29-yard touchdown run to give the Mustangs the early lead and the momentum.
On Eureka’s ensuing drive, Geisz threw an ill-advised pass near the Marquette sideline. Mustangs’ defensive back John Jackson jumped the route and intercepted Geisz to halt the drive.
With a chance to go up two scores, the Mustangs were unable to pull through when Charlie Kreh’s 35-yard field goal attempt was blocked at the line of scrimmage.
Just when the Wildcats appeared to find their offensive rhythm, running back Stephen Erutti coughed up the ball at the Marquette 31 with 2:55 remaining in the first quarter.
The Mustangs took over, but to no avail. The Wildcats stood on their heads against a potent rushing attack from the Mustangs. It was only a mater of time before Geisz and the rest of the Wildcats’ offense got going—their next drive to be exact.
On fourth down near midfield, Shelton called for a fake punt. It worked to perfection. Geisz—positioned a few yards deeper than normal—took the snap and fired a dart to Daniel Shelton, who ran it all the way down to the Marquette 31 for a new set of downs.
It was Eureka’s second fake punt in as many games, and the trickery eventually set up Cameron Nisbet’s 10-yard touchdown run to tie it 7-7.
The score tilted the game for good.
The Wildcats took the lead on Geisz’ one-yard rush to make it 14-7. Geisz avenged his first-quarter interception with a quarterback keeper on another fourth-down conversion to keep the drive alive.
Later in the quarter, Erutti made up for his earlier fumble with a four-yard run to give the Wildcats a 14-point cushion.
“We were off 15 days, we had the bye [week], you could tell in the first half we came out a little rusty,” Shelton said. “I think all of us, players and coaches, we were trying to get in the swing of things.”
Marquette never recovered.
Bo Highfill added a 37-yard field goal to make it 24-7 with less than five minutes to play in the third, and Erutti recorded his second rushing touchdown of the night, this time from seven yards out to seal the win.
After the game, Shelton awarded the game ball to the Eureka Golden Line in memory of Natalie Timm, who was tragically killed in a car accident not two weeks ago.
“I told [the team] we’ve got 2 1/2 hours to maybe forget things, but then the reality is going to hit with the Timm’s family, the Golden Line family and the whole Eureka community.”