All facets of the UW-Eau Claire football team played solid today as offense, defense, and special teams each scored a touchdown during a 28-7 win over UW-Stevens Point.
The 25th-ranked Blugolds are now 7-2 overall and 4-2 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC). This is the best record for Eau Claire since 2004’s 7-3 season. The last Eau Claire team to win eight was the 2002 squad. Meanwhile, the Pointers drop their third straight and are 6-3 overall and 3-3 in conference play. With UW-Stout’s loss to UW-Whitewater, Eau Claire is alone in second for the WIAC.
In the opening minutes of today’s game, it seemed as though neither team wanted the ball. Eau Claire took the kickoff and marched to its 44. On the next play, Cory Sartorelli (So.-Appleton/North) fumbled as Stevens Point picked it up. On the first Pointer play, Nate Jahn (Sr.-Alma Center/Lincoln) sacked freshman quarterback Jake Swank as Swank fumbled. Nate Rucker (Sr.-Allouez/Green Bay Southwest) picked it up and made it the Pointers’ 13 before being tackled.
Eau Claire then handed the ball to Sartorelli with such good field position, and he made it to the 3. However, on first-and-goal, Sartorelli fumbled at the 3 and Stevens Point recovered.
Both teams punted back and forth until 4:24 was left in the first quarter. The Blugolds started a drive at their own 20 and on the first play, Mitch Schaeuble (Sr.-Wrightstown) hooked up with Nils Dillon (So.-Iola/Iola-Scandinavia) for 49 yards. Four plays later, Schaeuble hit Tony Hull (Sr.-Blaine, MN/Spring Lake Park) for a 20-yard touchdown as Eau Claire got on the board first.
Neither team could get far into enemy territory again until Eau Claire began another scoring drive with 7:42 left in the second. Schaeuble got things off on the right foot once more with a 25-yard pass to Brett Schreiner (So.-Somerset) on the first play, which brought the ball to the Pointers’ 39. Matt Olson (Fr.-Stratford) did much of the work the rest of the way and capped it off with a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0 Blugolds, which would be the score at halftime.
After half, Eau Claire turned the ball over on its first drive. Kasey Morgan picked off Schaeuble’s pass and was tackled at Stevens Point’s 41. Mostly off a 22-yard pass, the Pointers drove to Eau Claire’s 7 before Swank found Jared Jenkins for a touchdown.
Eau Claire had to punt on the following possession and Stevens Point followed with a punt of its own. However, Jahn once again got behind enemy lines and blocked the punt. Tom Dohr (Jr.-Neenah) picked it up and hustled 32 yards to paydirt as Eau Claire went up 21-7 with 4:44 to go in the third. It was the seventh block this year for Eau Claire, with four of those being punts.
The next drive went just as poorly for the Pointers as the Blugold defense scored this time. On third-and-5 from his own 30, Swank threw an interception to Kyle Meulemans (Jr.-Wrightstown), who returned it 35 yards and scored. Meulemans had another interception early in the fourth and now leads the team with four.
The fourth quarter saw no scoring, making for a 28-7 final, but three consecutive drives ended on turnovers. Stevens Point had the ball at the 11:23 mark, but fumbled it away the Pointers’ 48. Ryan Leis (So.-Alma Center/Lincoln) forced it and Paul Bielmeier (Jr.-Edgar) recovered it. Four plays later, Eau Claire’s Abou Amara, Jr. (So.-Madison/East) lost control of the ball at Stevens Point’s 37. With 6:21 to go in the game, Stevens Point started a drive that ended in an interception. It got to Eau Claire’s 34, but Craig Polifka (Jr.-Kewaunee) snagged it on the Pointers’ last real chance.
The Pointers outgained Eau Claire 315-to-287, making it the sixth victory where Eau Claire has been outgained. The Pointers just edged Eau Claire in passing 173-to-167 and had a wider margin in rushing at 142-to-120.
Sartorelli gained 63 yards on 21 carries while Olson ran for 40 yards and a score on 14 attempts. Schaeuble completed 8-of-16 to compile 167 yards and a touchdown strike. Tony Hull was the only receiver with multiple catches, gathering three for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Eau Claire’s defense picked off three passes and recovered two fumbles while Stevens Point intercepted one and jumped on three fumbles. Rucker and Bielmeier grabbed the fumbles for Eau Claire while Polifka and Meulemans had the picks, with Meulemans pulling in two. Dohr led in tackles with 14, though Zach Paul (Sr.-Edgar) and Sam Cummings (Sr.-Rochester, MN/John Marshall) each had 10.
Eau Claire will finish up the season next week at home against Stout. The rivalry game will begin at 1 p.m. in Carson Park.