EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Despite trailing 21-7 at halftime against 10th-ranked Pacific Luther University (Wash.), the UW-Eau Claire football team shut out the Lutes in the second half but came up just short in the end, 21-19, in the Blugolds' home opener at Carson Park today.
The Blugolds fell behind early as Pacific Lutheran scored on their second and third possessions of the game. After getting up by seven, the Lutes recovered a Blugold fumble on the following kickoff and traveled 40 yards to put the ball in the end zone again to lead 14-0 by the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Pacific Lutheran attempted a fake punt on 4th-and-15, but the Blugolds stopped it and got the ball on the Lutes' 42 yard line. From there, the Blugolds went 42 yards over the next 4:39 and put the ball in the end zone, with Joel Sweeney (Sr.-Tomah, Wis.) capping the drive with a two-yard run. After an extra point by Billy Emanuel (Sr.-Owatonna, Minn.), the Blugolds were within seven.
But the Lutes scored again on the following drive to take a 21-7 lead into halftime.
On the Blugolds' second drive in the third quarter, they found the end zone again with Sweeney finishing the 54-yard drive with a 10-yard run. But, a failed extra point attempt left the score 21-13 and would come back to haunt the Blugolds in the fourth quarter.
Eau Claire chewed up a majority of the clock in the fourth quarter and used a 16-play, 88-yard drive over 7:51 to get back into the end zone. Sweeney again scored, this time on a one-yard run, with 41 seconds remaining. Eau Claire then attempted a two-point conversion but it failed and the Lutes were able to run out the clock after an on-side kick attempt put the ball on the Eau Claire 39, in Pacific Lutheran's hands.
Sweeney finished the game with 132 yards on 31 carries. He scored three touchdowns, the fourth time in his career he reached the end zone three times in a game.
Blugold quarterback Mark Munger (Jr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) finished 17-for-25 in passing while Sweeney also led the team in receiving with 59 yards on three catches.
On defense, Sean Graham (Sr.-Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall) led the Blugolds with nine tackles (six solo, three assists), including one tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Cody Taubman (So.-New Richmond, Wis.) and Colton Ellis (Sr.-Rice Lake, Wis.) each intercepted a pass.
The Blugolds fall to 0-3 on the season while the Lutes improve to 3-0.
The Blugolds will open conference play next Saturday at when they travel to UW-Platteville for a game starting at 3 p.m.