All gold everything

All+gold+everything

Photo by Steve Fruehauf

In 2012, UW-Eau Claire head football coach Todd Glaser busted out gold jerseys for the first time when his team needed a spark before the Homecoming game against UW-Stout. Coincidentally, the Blugolds won that contest.

Fast forward a year later to Saturday when Glaser and the Blugolds entered the contest against UW-River Falls with an 0-6 record and coming off the worst loss of the season to UW-Whitewater last Friday night. Oh yeah, and they were without All-American running back Joel Sweeney, who suffered an injury at Whitewater. Another spark was needed, and once again, Glaser let his players break out the gold jerseys.

Just like last season, it worked, as the Blugolds came away with a 13-6 victory over the visiting Falcons at Carson Park.

“We had them last year, and the kids wanted to wear them this year,” Glaser said. “We might have to wear them every game.”

Answering the call on offense was sophomore wide receiver turned running back Clint Larsen, who stepped into Sweeney’s place in the backfield and picked up 120 yards on 28 carries and a pair of touchdowns.

“I knew this was going to happen because Sweeney was out,” Larsen said. “I knew I was just going to have to have fun with it, and that’s the way it happened.”

Larsen made the score fun for Blugold fans with  touchdown runs from close to the goal line, as he pounded one in from two yards out late in the second quarter to give Eau Claire a 6-0 halftime lead. In the fourth quarter, with the score tied 6-6, Larsen got in from the one-yard line for the game winning touchdown with 5:42 left in the game.

“Clint did a great job of making plays when he had to,” Glaser said. “Our offensive line did a great job of blocking, and we played hard all game.”

A week after giving up 42 points to Whitewater, the Blugold defense buckled down and held the River Falls offense in check, limiting the Falcons to only 68 yards of rushing.

“We had a great game plan against them,” linebacker Scott Burzynski said. “We were able to follow through and succeed.”

Sophomore Cody Taubman led the way on the defensive side with six tackles while Burzynski collected six. Junior Thurgood Dennis also had six tackles as well as a pass breakup, one of nine on the afternoon the Blugolds had against Falcon quarterback Ryan Kusilik. The defensive effort in the secondary was one Glaser said impressed him a lot.

“We were trying to get pressure, they have a really good quarterback,” Glaser said. “We did a good of job of sticking with their receivers and making them earn it.”

The Blugolds came up big in critical situations Saturday, converting nine of 16 third downs while holding River Falls to 0-4 on fourth down conversions, including the final stop with 1:04 left to play.

Larsen said getting that first win feels great for the team, especially with the effort he said they’ve put in to snag a victory.

“You can really tell how hard we’ve been working all week, even though we were 0-6,” Larsen said. “We’re still coming out with a lot of fire and a lot of confidence, and that really showed on the defensive and offensive side.”

The Blugolds will look to keep things rolling against UW-Stout next Saturday in Menomonie. They  return home for the Carson Park finale Nov. 9 against UW-Oshkosh, and in that contest, don’t be surprised to see them don gold jerseys.