Eau Claire football loses conference opener against Stevens Point

Blugolds set season-high stats on offense

More stories from Austin Mai

The passing touchdown has eluded freshman quarterback JT Denhartog through the first three games of the season as he’s recorded four interceptions and no touchdowns. That all changed Saturday when the UW-Eau Claire football team traveled to UW-Stevens Point for the conference-schedule opener.

Denhartog’s arm and touch led junior wide receivers Matthew Knapp and Tyler Korth into the end zone thrice on Saturday en route to the 38-28 loss, the closest margin of the season by 24 points.

Korth had two receptions for 48 yards including a 37-yard touchdown pass from Denhartog at 09:07 in the first quarter. Freshman kicker Liam O’Malley kicked the extra point to force the 7-7 tie.

Knapp caught seven passes for 98 yards including two touchdowns; the first score at 05:26 in the third quarter and the second touchdown with five minutes to play in the fourth quarter amid a comeback attempt.

Knapp said the team is playing closer to what they expected to going into the season, but more work is needed to achieve what they want to.

“JT (Denhartog) is putting up big numbers,” Knapp said. “We knew we could move the ball, we just had to prove it to ourselves.”

After an underwhelming start to his Blugold career, Denhartog completed 22 of 38 pass attempts for 286 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday.

Head coach Todd Glaser said Denhartog has improved since the season’s start and he believes he’ll get better every week.

“I thought he got better during the bye week,” Glaser said. “I thought he got more comfortable and he looked at ease with what we were doing offensively.”

Before the season, Glaser said finding and executing a balanced attack on offense would be critical for determining the team’s success this season. Even with a loss to the Pointers, the Blugold offense posted season-highs in offensive categories including 388 total yards, 286 net passing yards and 102 net rushing yards.

Freshman running back Toure Wallace moved the ball for 90 yards and scored a touchdown. His 17 carries showed him becoming the true workhorse for the Blugold offense, earning 88 percent of the team’s net rushing yards last weekend.

Still, Glaser sees room for improvement.

“(The rushing game) was satisfying at times,” Glaser said. “We gotta be a little more consistent … we need to be better technique wise to establish that.”

This was the least-penalized game of the season for the Blugolds with three penalties for 40 yards. The previous low for this season was during the season opener against University of St. Thomas (Minn.) with five penalties for 50 yards.

Eau Claire (0-4, 0-1) will host its Homecoming game against conference opponent UW-River Falls (2-2,1-0) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Carson Park. The Falcons are coming off of a 21-20 Homecoming victory against UW-La Crosse.