LA CROSSE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Playing in the final game of the 2013 season, the UW-Eau Claire football team defeated UW-La Crosse 24-21 at Veterans Memorial Field in Roger Harring Stadium today.
Eau Claire led just twice the entire day, at halftime and at the end of the game.
After the Eagles scored a touchdown in the first quarter, the Blugolds found the end zone early in the second quarter to tie it up. Joel Sweeney (Sr.-Tomah, Wis.) ended a 14-play, 77-yard drive with a two-yard run and Billy Emanuel (Sr.-Owatonna, Minn.) hit the extra point to tie the game at seven.
La Crosse went back ahead on the next drive with another touchdown but Eau Claire answered again with a three-play drive to tie the game at 14. After a penalty nullified the first play of the drive, Sweeney had a rushes of 10 yards, 40 yards and one yard to get the Blugolds into the end zone with 10:11 left to play in the half.
Eau Claire ended the half with Emanuel hitting a 35-yard field goal with 33 seconds remaining and the Blugolds took a 17-14 lead into halftime.
La Crosse came out in the second half and scored after traveling 72 yards in 11 plays to go back up 21-17. Eau Claire was able to answer at 13:34 in the fourth quarter with Joel Newman (So.-Red Wing, Minn.) finding Nate Piel (So.-Wausau, Wis./West) for a four-yard touchdown to end a 10-play, 30-yard drive. The Blugolds were actually lined up for a field goal attempt but after a La Crosse timeout, decided to go for it on fourth down and were able to score the touchdown. The score remained 24-21 the rest of the way.
Sweeney finished the game with 172 yards on 29 carries, ending his career with 4,021 rushing yards, third on the Blugolds' all-time list, and 861 carries, fourth most in school history. He also finished with 45 touchdowns in his career, tied for fourth in school archives. This season Sweeney had 1,168 yards playing nine games, tied for seventh best in a single season with Blugold Hall of Famer Roger Vann.
Newman finished the game with 90 yards passing, going 16-for-29. The Blugolds finished with 320 yards of total offense while La Crosse had 316.
On defense, Erik Hulman (So.-Milwaukee, Wis./Lutheran) led the Blugolds with 12 tackles while Scott Burzynski (Sr.-Stanley, Wis./Stanley-Boyd) had 11. Colton Ellis (Sr.-Rice Lake, Wis.) forced and recovered a fumble while Hulman also had a fumble recovery. Jayden Dobbs (So.-Athens, Wis.) finished the game with one sack for a loss of one yard.
The Blugolds complete the year 2-8 overall and 2-5 in conference play. La Crosse ends its 2013 campaign 3-7 overall and 3-4 in the WIAC.
Photos by Chico La Barbera - http://chico.zenfolio.com/p725469249