St. John’s runs all over Blugolds

Johnnies rush for 334 yards in lopsided loss


Photo by Anna Mateffy

Senior quarterback Mark Munger looks for a pass downfield against St. John’s Saturday night at Carson Park.

Story by Nick Erickson, Editor In Chief

With a capacity crowd on hand and a lot of hype going into the game, the UW-Eau Claire football team had a prime opportunity to make a big statement.

Instead, Sam Sura and St. John’s (Minn.) punched the Blugolds right in the mouth.

The Johnnies’ running back rushed for a school-record 283 yards on 32 attempts, including two touchdowns, as St. John’s waltzed out of Carson Park with a 31-7 victory.

The visitors outgained the Blugolds 436 to 216 yards in the contest.

“We got beat for four quarters, we got outcoached for four quarter, we got outplayed for four quarters,” Eau Claire head coach Todd Glaser said.

The Blugolds had a chance to get on the board first, however. After stopping St. John’s on the first drive of the game, Eau Claire marched down the field methodically with tailback Jake Neis.

The Blugolds used 14 plays to get 62 yards on the drive, but four straight chances inside the five yard-line was all-for-not as the Johnnies stuffed Neis at the one on the fourth down.

“It hurts not to get that first one right in there, you know, go up 7-zip, it would have helped with momentum,” starting quarterback Mark Munger said. “But we’ve got to fight through adversity. We’re better than that. We should be able to get a yard.”

From then on, it was the Sura show.

The Johnnies used the option run extremely effectively in the first half, making the Blugold outside linebackers bite on the quarterback keep several times before he, Nick Martin, dumped it off to Sura.

Sura ran for 218 yards in the first half, including a 25-yard touchdown run.

“We failed to hold the edge, but it is what it is,” said defensive captain Erik Hulman, who finished with 16 tackles on the night.

The Blugold offense struggled, as well. After gaining 298 yards through the air last week at St. Thomas, Munger only threw for 98 yards as the Johnnies flushed him out of the pocket all game.

He eventually found Tye McLaughlin in the endzone late in the fourth quarter for a one-yard touchdown pass and the only score of the game for Eau Claire.

“They played us differently, they took away some of our bubbles, but we’ve just got to play our game and find our strengths,” Munger said.

It might be a stepback for a team that played the No. 11 team in the country to a five-point game on the road last week. And while Glaser wasn’t pleased with the execution Saturday, he knows there’s still plenty of season left to improve.

“We didn’t play up to our capabilities,” Glaser said. “We’re a better team than this, but we have to come out and work harder and learn from this. That’s the biggest thing.”

They’ll get a chance at redemption next Saturday at Wheaton (Ill.). Kickoff there is set for 1 p.m.