EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – After the UW-Eau Claire football team led much of the first half, Saint John's University (Minn.) scored 21 unanswered points between the second and third quarters and was able to hold on for a 31-28 win over the Blugolds.
Joel Sweeney (Jr.-Tomah, Wis.) scored three rushing touchdowns for the Blugolds and finished the day with 182 yards, the second largest total he has reached in his career. Sweeney scored the game's opening touchdown and had another in the second quarter. His final touchdown came in the fourth quarter, which helped put the Blugolds within seven (28-21) with less than 12 minutes to play.
While Eau Claire and Saint John's played close in the beginning and found themselves tied at 14 at halftime, the Johnnies scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to take a 28-14 lead. In the fourth, while Sweeney scored early, Saint John's answered with a field goal with 2:11 remaining on the clock. The field goal came following a 46-minute lightning delay.
Despite being down by 10 points with just over two minutes to play, the Blugolds didn't give up. Quarterback Austin Neu (Sr.-Iron Ridge, Wis./Hustisford) led the Blugolds down the field in just one minute, going 73 yards in eight plays to the end zone and Eau Claire was down by just three (31-28). Cody Gerver (So.-Mahtomedi, Minn.) caught the 10-yard touchdown pass from Neu to complete the drive.
The Blugolds then tried an onside kick but the Johnnies recovered and were able to run out the clock.
The teams were nearly even in total offensive yards, 397 yards for Eau Claire and 362 for Saint John's.
The Blugolds did a better job this week with fumbles and penalties, finishing with no fumbles and just four penalties. A week ago, the Blugolds fumbled four times and had eight penalties. Neu also threw two interceptions last week – this week he had none.
On defense, Sean Graham (Jr.-Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall) had seven tackles (six solo, one assist) to lead Eau Claire. Pat Hendricks (Sr.-Clintonville, Wis.) recorded one sack for a loss of two yards.
Eau Claire falls to 0-2 overall while Saint John's improves to 2-0. In the all-time series, the Johnnies lead 8-6 but today was their first win over the Blugolds since 2009.
The Blugolds will take next weekend off before a non-conference contest at UW-Platteville on Thursday, September 20. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.