Football team spoils Stout’s Homecoming
The UW-Eau Claire football team took their second win in a row with a 24-10 victory last Saturday over the UW-Stout Blue Devils in Menomonie.
The Blugolds struck first, with sophomore tailback Joel Sweeney scoring on a one-yard run with 4:31 left in the first quarter to give Eau Claire a 7-0 lead. Sweeney led the team in rushing with 79 yards on 23 carries, while also four catches for 60 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Sweeney said he tries to run hard and pick up yards to continue drives for the offense.
“First downs are good for our drives, so getting five yards every play is really good for our run game,” Sweeney said.
Eau Claire went into halftime up 10-7, thanks to a 37-yard field goal late in the second quarter from freshman
Junior quarterback Austin Neu said the team adjusted at halftime to the way the Blue Devils blitzed in the first half. “We got a little help from up in the box and other coaches, and it worked out well,” Neu said.
Stout tied the game up at 10 on its opening drive coming out of halftime, but the Blugolds responded with an 80-yard touchdown drive of its own. The Blugolds’ drive ended with Sweeney taking in a screen pass from Neu and breaking tackles on his way to a 23-yard score to put Eau Claire up 17-10.
Neu said the team excels at running the screen because of the play of Sweeney. “Joel runs that really well, and the last two years we’ve been running it really well and we’ve got great timing on it; that’s how it always usually works,” Neu said.
Eau Claire added a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach for the Blue Devils. Senior David Goodman caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Neu to put the final score at 24-10.
Neu had a career day, completing 19 of 24 passes for a career-high 349 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. Neu’s 349 yards ranks 12th on the Blugolds’ all-time list for most passing yards in one game.
Neu said the game being Stout’s homecoming played into his desire to win the game.
“We definitely wanted to spoil their homecoming and start conference out really strong,” Neu said.
The win puts Eau Claire at 3-1 on the year, with a 1-0 record in conference play. The loss drops Stout to 2-2 overall, with a 0-1 start to conference play.
Sweeney said it’s important not to take any teams lightly the rest of the year.
“There’s no team in this conference that you can doubt and say ‘they’re awful’ or ‘they’re down this year,’ every game is going to be crucial,” Sweeney said.
Neu said the team’s goal is to win the conference, but not too look too far ahead. “We want to improve every day in practice, but definitely just beat Oshkosh right now,” said Neu.
The Blugolds take on UW-Oshkosh this Saturday at Carson Park for Eau Claire’s Homecoming.
I know, mugs from the university site. I should’ve gotten ones myself.