STEVENS POINT, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire football team scored 17 second-half points and went on to defeat UW-Stevens Point 17-14 at Goerke Park today.
With the win, the Blugolds improve to 3-1 in the conference and 3-4 overall, in second place in the WIAC with fifth-ranked UW-Whitewater, which lost to 10th-ranked UW-Oshkosh 28-13 today. The Pointers are now 1-6 overall and 0-4 in WIAC play.
In the first half, while the Blugolds led in total offensive yards, first downs and time of possession, Stevens Point had a 7-0 advantage on the scoreboard at halftime. The Pointers scored a touchdown 10 minutes into the game.
The Blugolds came close to scoring in the first half but what would have been a 19-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter was called back after a penalty. Eau Claire still managed to get back near the end zone but on 4th-and-goal, the Pointers stopped the Blugolds just inches short of the end zone.
In the third quarter on the Blugolds' third drive, they drove 74 yards in seven plays to the end zone to tie the game at seven. Joel Sweeney (Jr.-Tomah, Wis.) capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
On the Pointers' following drive, Sean Graham (Jr.-Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall) picked up a fumble to give the Blugolds the ball back. Ten plays later, Eau Claire found the end zone again to build a 14-7 lead. Austin Goetsch (Sr.-Waunakee, Wis.) ended the drive with a 29-yard reception from Austin Neu (Sr.-Iron Ridge, Wis./Hustisford).
The Blugolds again scored on their next drive after chewing up almost five minutes and traveling 45 yards in 12 plays. Josh Albrecht (Sr.-Eau Claire, Wis./North) ended the drive by nailing a 42-yard field goal, his longest of the season and tied for 16th longest in school history. His career long is 43 yards while he also hit one from 42 yards, both in 2011.
With Eau Claire up 17-7 and less than four minutes remaining, the Pointers hurried their pace and drove 70 yards on their next possession in just over two minutes and scored a touchdown to get to within three points.
Stevens Point attempted an onside kick but it traveled just nine yards and the Blugolds were able to burn through the final 1:43 with five plays to record the win.
Eau Claire finished with 415 yards of total offense, a season-high, while giving up just 300, the second lowest total this year. The Blugolds nearly doubled the Pointers' time of possession with 38:07 for Eau Claire and 21:53 for Stevens Point.
Neu completed the game with a season-best 250 yards of passing (22-for-34) while Sweeney led the game with 131 rushing yards. With one touchdown today, he is now tied for eighth with Blugold Hall of Famer Roger Vann for most rushing touchdowns in a career with 29. Goetsch led Eau Claire in receiving with 12 catches and a season-high 124 yards, second most in a single game in his career.
On defense, Graham and Thurgood Dennis (Sr.-Allouez, Wis./Notre Dame) led the team with seven tackles apiece. Curtis Stypula (Sr.-Webster, Wis./Spooner) forced the fumble which Graham recovered late in the third.
The Blugolds will be home next Saturday for a game against UW-Platteville, a team Eau Claire lost to 49-19 in non-conference play on Sept. 20. Action will get underway at 3 p.m.