LIMERICK, Ireland (Blugolds.com) - The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Blugolds kicked off their Global Football summer visit to Ireland with a convincing 58-2 win over the University of Limerick Vikings.
Only 24 hours after arriving in Ireland, there were few signs of jet lag as the visitors scored nine touchdowns against a determined Limerick team that scored on a blocked extra point returned almost the length of the field for two points.
Starting quarterback Austin Neu completed 11 of 13 pass attempts for 132 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception, while fellow signal caller Mark Munger was just as accurate, completing 13 of 14 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown.
There were scores on the ground for Chris Olson, Kalan Stittleburg, Zack Zuidema and Ben Van Geffen, and in the air for David Goodman, Ryan Moertel and Nathan Bollinger and on an interception return for Coltan Ellis. Defensively, Andy Nuemann came up with three interceptions, while for the Vikings, Sean Sheehy raced to the end zone much to the delight of the home crowd at the Garryowen Rugby Club for Limerick's well-deserved points.
Limerick's inside rushing game was snuffed out early on by the Blugolds and with their first offensive play of the game, the Americans scored as Neu lofted a 35-yard pass to Goodman for the opening touchdown, but the extra point rattled off the upright.
A pair of dropped passes halted the Limerick offense and starting at their opponents' 30-yard mark, the Blugolds quickly doubled their lead as Stittleburg charged up the middle to score. More advantageous field position led to Zuidema breaking tackles on a scoring run for a 20-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Limerick defense stepped up and Liam Ryan hurried Munger, bringing up a third down, but a 39-yard gain to Bollinger set up a chance for offensive lineman Van Geffen to take the ball and barge his way into the end zone from two yards out.
James Twomey just failed to hold onto a pass over the middle as Limerick scrapped for yardage on third down and the visitors were clinical in reply. Olson gained 12 yards on the ground and then broke into the end zone from two yards out and the Blugolds led 34-0.
Sean Goldrick produced a crunching special teams tackle to force UW-Eau Claire to start from their own half for the first time, and the home defense held, leading to a 23-yard field goal that sailed wide right just before halftime.
Olson returned the second half opening kickoff 70 yards for a touchdown that was called back for an illegal block, but the Blugolds worked methodically from their own 20 to eventually score as Neu hit Bollinger from 11 yards out for a 40-point lead.
Neumann's interception got the ball back immediately and Stittleburg scored on a 10-yard rush, then the alert Neumann intercepted Marc Ashworth again and lateraled to Ellis, who raced 30 yards to score.
After Munger had found Moertel on a 12-yard scoring pass, the resulting extra point was blocked and Sheehy picked up the loose ball to charge down the left sideline and earn two points awarded for returning the ball to the end zone.
1 2 3 4 Total
UW-Eau Claire 20 14 18 6 58
U of Limerick 0 0 0 2 2
Rushing: UW-EC: Katlan Stittleburg 8-27-2; Chris Olson 7-26-1; Zack Zuidema 4-11-1; Austin Neu 3-12; Alex Plaster 3-11; Mark Munger 2-6; Ben Van Geffen 1-2-1. UL: Adrian Garvey 8-7; Marc Ashworth 4-8; James Twomey 3-3; Craig Switzer 1-2
Receiving: UW-EC: Alex Plaster 7-78; Ryan Moertel 6-35-1; David Goodman 5-102-1; Nathan Bollinger 4-79-1; Tyler Janus 1-21. UL: Adrian Garvey 2-8
Passing: UW-EC: Mark Munger 13-14-183-1-0; Austin Neu 11-13-132-2-1. UL: Marc Ashworth 2-12-0-4
-Written By Michael Preston: MP@MPrestonSports.com-