Blue Devils win the War on I-94

Blugolds score 12 points against worst-ranked total defense

More stories from Austin Mai

Freshman quarterback JT DenHartog threw for 184 yards and rushed 16 times for 84 yards in a losing effort against UW-Stout Saturday 45-12.

Of those rushes, 15 came in the first half, which the Blue Devils led 31-0 at the end of the half.

Junior wide receiver Matthew Knapp led the team with seven receptions for 106 yards and said the team has practiced well this week coming off of the loss and feels confident heading into Saturday, but it’s tough to still be winless.

“It’s been rough coming in week in and week out without a win,” Knapp said. “…but that’s why we play the game. (We play) to stay humbled and to keep trying to build this program.”

Knapp leads the conference with 986 all purpose yards and has a 236-yard lead on his closest competition. He is also a top-four WIAC player with 5.67 receptions a game and 79.7 receiving yards a game.

He said he has always had the mindset that if he is not working hard, someone else out there is and they will supplant him. But as far as the credit goes for his success this season, he shares it with his teammates.

“…having the guys I have around me really opens up the field for me,” Knapp said. “It’s not hard to get yards when you know you have your boys laying their bodies out for you.”

The Blugolds finished the game with 378 yards of total offense, but against a defense that was giving up around 800 yards of total offense before Saturday’s game, the total yardage was relatively small. After the game, Stout’s defensive average was 578.5 yards of total defense a game.

Currently 0-6, 0-3, Eau Claire sits at the bottom of the WIAC in both offensive (13 points a game) and defensive (42) scoring.

Knapp contributes that to the team’s inability to finish drives.

“Offensively we moved the ball but couldn’t get into the end zone once again,” Knapp said. “…and obviously the turnovers and penalties killed our momentum at points in the game as well.”

The War on I-94 featured 23 penalties for 220 yards from both teams, including the Blugolds’ 12 for 131 yards.

Head coach Todd Glaser said the team can’t expect to have success when they commit so many penalties.

“Penalties were a problem all game, so was giving up big plays on defense,” Glaser said. “In our league … the big difference maker is matchups. And they did better than us this week.”

The defense gave up 469 yards against the Blue Devils, with Stout’s offense averaging five yards a carry on 30 carries. Even with Eau Claire ranked third in conference with time of possession and winning that battle by nearly four minutes against Stout, Eau Claire’s seventh-ranked red zone defense and worst-ranked red zone offense could keep them from winning against their remaining conference foes this season.

This is the last home game for the UW-Eau Claire football team in October and only one home game remains for the rest of the season.

The team travels for a 11:30 a.m. game Saturday against UW-La Crosse.