Saints silence Eureka slinger to win UMAC opener

Eureka College (Ill.) came into Saturday afternoon's Upper Midwest Athletic Conference opener against St. Scholastica boasting an up-tempo aerial attack led by record-setting quarterback Sam Durley.

Saints QB Tyler Harper
St. Scholastica quarterback Tyler Harper carries the ball Saturday afternoon against Eureka College (Ill.) at Public Schools Stadium. (Clint Austin /

Eureka College (Ill.) came into Saturday afternoon's Upper Midwest Athletic Conference opener against St. Scholastica boasting an up-tempo aerial attack led by record-setting quarterback Sam Durley.

It was Saints slinger Tyler Harper, though, who stole the spotlight in a 35-10 St. Scholastica romp at damp Public Schools Stadium.

The diminutive Harper, making his second collegiate start, rolled up 300 yards of total offense -- 220 passing, 80 rushing -- as the Saints (1-1 overall, 1-0 UMAC) showed off their own potent offense while bouncing back from last week's season-opening loss to Whitworth University (Wash.).

Harper, a 5-foot-8 dual-threat sophomore, led the charge. When he had time to throw, Harper showed poise and precision while picking apart Eureka's defense. And when he was flushed from the pocket, he used his feet to keep the Saints' offense churning, including a 39-yard scamper that set up St. Scholastica's second touchdown halfway through the first quarter.

"He's not a burner, but he does run pretty well, so he brings a little added dimension," Saints coach Greg Carlson said. "Last year, our quarterback was a drop-back guy."


Eureka coach Kurt Barth agreed.

"He's great on his feet," Barth said. "We talked all week about not letting him get outside because that's where he's at his best."

St. Scholastica set the tone on the first play from scrimmage when senior defensive end Chas Lemon busted free and drove Durley into the ground for a sack. Though the play was negated by a defensive penalty, Lemon and the Saints made it clear they had no intention of allowing Durley to approach the NCAA-record 736 passing yards he racked up last week against Knox College.

The Red Devils' strong-armed 6-5 senior was harassed all afternoon. When Durley had time to throw, he was hindered by a bevy of dropped passes as Eureka (1-1, 0-1) struggled to find an offensive rhythm -- a far cry for a team that garnered a wealth of national recognition following its 62-55 shootout win in Week 1.

"You gotta get four guys that are coming lights-out, and I think we did that for the most part," Carlson said. "He (Durley) threw a lot of passes high today, which tells me he was a little nervous in the pocket."

Durley completed 21 of 49 passes for 228 yards, nowhere near the video game-like numbers he put up a week ago. The Saints also bottled up dynamic receiver Jordan Kindred, limiting him to five receptions for 54 yards a week after he hauled in 13 passes for 235 yards in his first game of organized football a week ago.

Barth lamented his team's drops.

"I thought Sam played a pretty solid game, but he can't throw it and catch it," the coach said.


Fast-starting St. Scholastica, which pulled ahead 28-7 late in the second quarter on Harper's third TD toss of the first half, pushed its UMAC winning streak to 14 games. The Saints haven't lost a conference affair since midway through the 2010 season.

The Saints knew a quick start Saturday would help bury any negative vibes left over from their loss to Whitworth, when they fell behind 28-0 before scoring 13 fourth-quarter points.

"We really had to come out firing on all cylinders, put some points up right away," said senior receiver Nick Thiry, who had three catches for 65 yards and two scores. "I think that's what killed us last week when we had a slow start."

Senior running back Travis Nehowig tallied 103 rushing yards on 19 carries for the Saints, who host Greenville College (Ill.) next week in their homecoming game.

Racing for the end zone
Eureka College (Ill.) safety Murad Abbed (34) pursues St. Scholastica receiver Cory Gebhard after Gebhard caught a pass along the sideline Saturday at Public Schools Stadium. Gebhard ran it in for a touchdown. (Clint Austin /

What To Read Next
Get Local