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Football Drops Season Opener at Second-Ranked St. Thomas

Football Drops Season Opener at Second-Ranked St. Thomas

ST. PAUL, Minn. ( – The UW-Eau Claire football team had a tough time today at second-ranked and 2012 NCAA Division III runner-up University of St. Thomas (Minn.), falling 52-7 to the Tommies at O'Shaughnessy Stadium.

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St. Thomas scored touchdowns on its first two drives of the game and took a 15-0 lead by the end of the first quarter. After the Tommies got up by 15, the Blugolds got back into the game with Joel Sweeney (Sr.-Tomah, Wis.) scoring on a one-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter.

But from there it was all St. Thomas, which scored three more touchdowns before halftime to take a 32-7 lead into the locker room. The Blugolds attempted a 45-yard field goal at the end of the half but the kick fell short.

St. Thomas scored another touchdown in the third quarter and added two more in the fourth quarter to score the most points they have reached in a home opener since 1917. Ten different Tommies scored points today, including seven touchdowns from seven different players.

Sweeney led the Blugolds with 52 rushing yards on eight carries, all which came in the first half. In his first collegiate start, quarterback Mark Munger (Jr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) passed for 118 yards, going 11-for-18, while Drew Davis (Fr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) led the receivers with 45 yards on two catches. The Tommie defense had an interception, a forced fumble and recovery, and six sacks.

The Blugold defense was led by Sean Graham (Sr.-Hales Corners, Wis./Whitnall), who compiled 10 tackles (eight solo, two assists). John Endres (Fr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) had a blocked kick while Matthew Knapp (Fr.-Eau Claire, Wis./Memorial) blocked a punt.

Eau Claire is now 0-1 to start the year while St. Thomas is 1-0, pushing its regular-season win streak to 35 games and its home win streak to 18. This was the first meeting between the two teams in St. Paul while the only other meeting was the 2012 season opener, held at Carson Park in Eau Claire. St. Thomas won that game 27-24, scoring the game-winning touchdown with less than three minutes to play.

The 52 points today were the most given up by the Blugolds since a 65-44 loss to UW-River Falls on Oct. 14, 2000 and tied for the sixth most points allowed in school history. Seven points were also the fewest the Blugolds have scored since a 45-0 loss to UW-Whitewater on Oct. 16, 2010 while the margin of defeat (45 points) tied for the eighth largest in school history.

Next Saturday, the Blugolds will be at Saint John's University in Collegeville, Minn. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.

Photos below by Chico La Barbera -