EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The UW-Eau Claire football picked up its first win of the season, defeating UW-Stout 21-13 on Homecoming at Carson Park.
The Blugolds defeated UW-Stout for the second straight year and will keep "The War on Interstate 94" trophy in Eau Claire.
Both teams started slow and the first quarter saw no scoring and a combined 71 yards of total offense (36 for Stout, 35 for Eau Claire).
But in the second quarter, Stout put points on the board just three minutes in with Ricky Marteney kicking a 43-yard field goal to give the Blue Devils the 3-0 lead. Three drives later, the Blugolds traveled 95 yards in 13 plays and Austin Neu (Sr.-Iron Ridge, Wis./Hustisford) capped the drive with a 14-yard pass to Jared Staege (Fr.-Waunakee, Wis.) for a touchdown. After the extra point by Josh Albrecht (Sr.-Eau Claire, Wis./North) the Blugolds took a 7-3 lead, a lead they took into halftime.
With the Blugolds starting with the ball in the second half, they were traveling down the field well but Neu threw an interception, which was returned 38 yards, and Stout scored five plays later.
Down 10-7, Eau Claire forced a fumble on Stout's next drive and recovered on the Blugolds' 36. After five plays, the Blugolds found themselves on Stout's 32 and Neu found some room to run, and he made it to the end zone to give the Blugolds a narrow lead again.
Stout closed the gap to just one point (14-13) early in the fourth quarter after Marteney hit a 20-yard field goal. But the Blugolds answered on the following drive as Neu completed a touchdown pass to Austin Goetsch (Sr.-Waunakee, Wis.) for 21 yards. Albrecht again made the extra point to give Eau Claire a 21-13 lead with 7:25 remaining.
On the Blue Devils' final drive, they moved the ball well but Tyler Janus (Sr.-Sussex, Wis./Hamilton) intercepted a pass to end the nine-play drive, and Eau Claire was able to run out the clock for their first win of 2012.
Despite the slow start, both teams finished with more than 300 yards of offense. The Blugolds had 302 (121 rushing, 167 passing) while Stout had 326 (164 rushing, 195 passing). Stout fumbled the ball four times, losing two of them, while Eau Claire fumbled once but recovered it. Each team picked off a pass.
Neu led the Blugolds with 93 yards rushing on 18 carries while Joel Sweeney (Jr.-Tomah, Wis.) finished with 32 yards. Neu actually had 130 positive rushing yards but he was sacked six times, which brought his total down. He finished 16-for-25 with 181 yards passing while Goetsch led the Blugolds with 46 yards receiving on four catches.
On defense, Nick Slade (Sr.-St. Cloud, Minn./Tech) finished with six tackles to lead Eau Claire while Jimmy Hall (Sr.-Howards Grove, Wis.) and Matt Hawley (Sr.-Hewitt, Wis./Marshfield) each had a sack. Sean Graham (Jr.-Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall) and Jake Safstrom (Jr.-Grafton, Wis.) both recovered fumbles while Kyle Thorpe (Sr.-Stanley, Wis./Stanley-Boyd) and Nate Johnson (Sr.-Madison, Wis./La Follette) each forced one.
With the victory, the Blugolds improve to 14-1-1 all-time against Stout on Homecoming and 50-34-6 overall in a series going back to 1917. All-time on Homecoming, the Blugolds are 53-26-8, winning eight of the last nine.
Eau Claire is now 1-3 on the season and 1-0 in the WIAC. Stout drops to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
Next Saturday the Blugolds will head to UW-Oshkosh to face the Titans at 2 p.m. Oshkosh is currently 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the conference after beating UW-River Falls 19-7 today.