This is how a heart breaks

Story by Spenser Bickett

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The UW-Eau Claire football team was on top of UW-Stevens Point until the end of Saturday’s game but couldn’t hold on, losing 28-24 on a last-second touchdown.

The Blugolds capitalized on two early turnovers by the Pointers.  Both of Eau Claire’s first two touchdowns came after defensive interceptions.

Senior safety Chad Samuelson picked off a pass in the end zone on Stevens Point’s first drive.  The Blugolds capped off the ensuing drive with a 14-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore tailback Joel Sweeney.

Samuelson said the team practiced for that situation all week, and it was nice for the situation to occur in the game.

“I was really focused on the tight end, and he happened to run across my face,” Samuelson said.  “I followed him across the field, and the quarterback ended up just throwing it right to me.”

Samuelson said he has had mixed emotions during his final season here at Eau Claire.

“It’s been a fun year, but there’s been ups and downs, peaks and valleys,” Samuelson said..

Another interception by senior cornerback Chris Olson led to a 16-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Matt Olson. Eau Claire held a halftime lead of 14-7 over the Pointers.

Olson said the interception was a result of the quarterback throwing the ball behind the receiver and being in the right place to catch the tipped pass.

“I did have a few years of running back under my sleeve so those instincts turn in, trying to get the yards you can get,” said Olson.

Olson said as a senior it’s important to play every play like it’s your last play.  “Winning our last game at Carson Park would be big,” said Olson.

“You always want go out on top, especially when you’re going to be done playing after this year.”

Another electric play of the day came in the third quarter, where freshman kick returner Clint Larsen took a punt return 83 yards for a touchdown to give the Blugolds a 21-14 lead.  Freshman kicker Josh Albrecht hit on a 32-yard field goal to put Eau Claire up 24-14.

Larsen, an Eau Claire native, said he just tries to run straight ahead on punt returns and pick up blocks where he can.

“My whole team had all these big holes for me to run through, so I just kept running,” said Larsen.

Larsen said it was overwhelming at first coming in as a freshman and playing for the Blugolds, but it has been a fun experience.  “They say there’s nothing like Friday night lights in high school but probably because they never played Saturday afternoons,” said Larsen.

Larsen said it’s been great to learn from senior wide receiver David Goodman and junior wide receiver Mike O’Connell.

“They’re going to make me as good as I can be,”
said Larsen.

Stevens Point responded with a touchdown in the third quarter, then went ahead for good on a quarterback sneak from the one-yard line with 15 seconds left to give them the 28-24 win.

The Blugolds and the Pointers now have identical records, with both teams 4-3 on the year with a 2-2 record in conference play.  The Blugolds head to Platteville next Saturday to take on the UW-Platteville Pioneers.

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