By Bryce Meade, UWEC Sports Information
MENOMONIE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) - The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire football team fell just short of capturing their first win in the "War on 94" rivalry since 2014 Saturday night.
The Blugolds wasted no time getting on the board, as Scott Procter (Sr. – Chicago, IL/Saint Rita of Cascia) found running back Austin Belot (So. – Neenah, WI/Neenah) for an 8-yard touchdown strike on the game's opening drive. The Blugolds were able to capitalize on a costly Blue Devil pass interference penalty on fourth and long earlier in the drive to take an early lead.
Following a Drew Pearson field goal to make the score 7-3, the Blugolds once again orchestrated a long touchdown drive, aided by another crucial fourth down penalty, this time roughing the passer. Brian Kulaga (Sr. – Riverside, IL/Riverside-Brookfield) powered his way into the end zone from five yards out to cap off the 72-yard drive and give the Blugolds a 13-3 lead following a blocked extra point. Stout's Sean Borgerding connected with Levy Hamer for an 8-yard touchdown pass of their own to cut the Blugold lead to three at the half.
The theme continued as penalties played a role early in the second half as well. Two Blugold personal fouls on consecutive plays gave Stout 30 free yards and set the Blue Devils up to take their first lead of the evening, when Hamer caught his second touchdown of the game.
Down 17-13, the Blugolds responded quickly, as Procter kept a read option and scampered 32 yards for a touchdown just two minutes later to put Eau Claire back on top 20-17. Stout had a quick answer as well, as they added a touchdown on their next drive, the third lead change just 8:55 into the second half. The third quarter would end with Stout owning a 23-20 lead.
The Blue Devils were looking to extend their lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Eau Claire defense came up big with a fumble recovery in their own red zone. The Blugolds were unable to capitalize on the turnover, however, as they punted three plays later. Pearson added another Stout field goal at the 2:21 mark of the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 26-20, where the score would eventually settle.
The Blugold passing game struggled, compiling just 52 yards, but Procter was electric on the ground all evening, rushing nine times for a career-high 97 yards and a touchdown. Kulaga added 88 yards on 24 carries. Sam Romanski (Jr. – Wausau, WI/East) led the defense with 10 tackles, two tackles for loss, and one sack. Romanski leads the team with six sacks on the season.
The Blugolds fall to 2-2 (0-1) on the season and will welcome the UW-Stevens Point Pointers (1-3 (0-1)) to Carson Park for their homecoming game next Saturday at 1:10 p.m. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day or on the 'UWEC Blugolds' app on your mobile device.