Sweeney's career day leads Blugolds past River Falls

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Behind a career rushing performance by Joel Sweeney (Jr.-Tomah, Wis.), the UW-Eau Claire football team ended the season with a 28-7 victory over UW-River Falls at Carson Park on Senior Day today.

Sweeney completed the game with 281 rushing yards, a mark that ranks fourth best on the Blugolds' single game rushing records list. He carried the ball 32 times, an average of 8.8 yards per carry. Sweeney also had two rushing touchdowns today, the first being a 65-yard run, tying for the 19th longest run in school history. For the season, Sweeney finished with 1,223 rushing yards and 264 carries, which both rank fifth best in a single season for Eau Claire.

In a game where the Blugolds held the Falcons scoreless through the first three quarters, Eau Claire got on the board on its second drive of the game. The drive started after Tyler Janus (Sr.-Sussex, Wis./Hamilton) intercepted a pass on the Falcons' second play of the game. Austin Neu (Sr.-Iron Ridge, Wis./Hustisford) ended the eight-play, 66-yard drive early in the first quarter with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Austin Goetsch (Sr.-Waunakee, Wis.).

The Blugolds' next touchdown came just three minutes into the second quarter. On the third play of the drive, Sweeney took the ball 65 yards to the end zone, which helped give the Blugolds a 14-0 lead, an advantage they held at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Blugolds scored two touchdowns. The first one came from Sweeney, capping an eight-play, 53 yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run. The second was a four-yard touchdown pass from Neu to Jy Corbett (Jr.-Port Edwards, Wis./John Edwards) with one minute remaining in the quarter. After three quarters, Eau Claire led 28-0.

River Falls finally got on the board in the fourth quarter with less than 11 minutes to play. It took the Falcons just five plays to find the end zone, ending the drive with a 43-yard touchdown pass. River Falls had three more opportunities the rest of the game but all three drives ended after the Blugolds stopped the Falcons on fourth down each time.

The Blugolds finished the game with 412 yards of offense, including 325 on the ground, the most the Blugolds have reached since a 369-yard rushing performance on Sept. 20, 2008 against Hope College (Mich.). River Falls had 371 total yards of offense, 315 passing and 56 rushing.

On offense, Nate Piel (Fr.-Wausau, Wis./West) led Eau Claire with 23 receiving yards on three catches while Neu went 12-for-20 for 87 yards passing.

On defense, Sean Graham (Jr.-Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall) led the Blugolds with seven tackles. In addition to Janus, Coltan Ellis (Jr.-Rice Lake, Wis.) also intercepted one pass while Scott Burzynski (Jr.-Stanley, Wis./Stanley-Boyd) recorded a sack on the Falcons' final play of the day.

Both teams had trouble with penalties today. Eau Claire was flagged eight times for 96 yards, a season-high and the most for Eau Claire since the 2006 season, while River Falls had 14 penalties for 135 yards.

The Blugolds finish the season with a record of 4-6 overall and 4-3 in the conference to take fourth place while the Falcons complete the year with a 2-8 overall record and 2-5 in WIAC play, taking sixth. The 4-3 record in the WIAC for Eau Claire is its best mark since 2009 when the Blugolds also finished 4-3.

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