By Bryce Meade, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire football team defeated the UW-Oshkosh Titans for the first time since the 2010 season on Saturday afternoon at Carson Park, 20-14.
The Titans caught a huge break on the Blugold's opening drive, recovering a Scott Procter (Sr. – Chicago, IL/Saint Rita of Cascia) fumble and returning it 34 yards for a touchdown. Though it appeared that Procter was down by contact prior to losing the ball, the play was ruled a touchdown and Oshkosh jumped out to an early 7-0 lead.
It took just two plays for the Blugold offense to answer, as Brycen Froelich (So. – Appleton, WI/Kaukauna) took a jet sweep 58 yards into the end zone at the 11:00 mark of the first quarter to even the score at seven.
Eau Claire was unable to capitalize on a muffed Titan punt later in the quarter that gave them the ball deep in enemy territory, turning the ball over on downs. A missed Oshkosh field goal from 42 yards out kept the score even at the end of the first quarter.
After stalling in Blugold territory, the Titans were forced to attempt another field goal early in the second quarter, this time from 34 yards away. The kick was blocked by Carmelo Rosado (So. – Beaver Dam, WI). After trading punts, Eau Claire put together a 14-play, 74-yard drive right before the end of the half, but were unable to put points on the board as time expired with the Blugolds at the one yard line. The teams went into the half tied 7-7.
The Blugolds came out of the locker room hot, driving 63 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead on the first drive of the half. Scott Procter threw a fade to Leeshaun Evans (Sr. – Chicago, IL/Thornridge) who made a phenomenal leaping grab over the Titan defender for the score.
The Titans knotted the game back up less than two minutes later, when Joe Franks ran 25 yards untouched into the end zone.
Brad Goetsch (So. – Schofield, WI/DC Everest) split the uprights on a career-long 40-yard field goal attempt to put Eau Claire back on top late in the third quarter.
Procter led the Blugolds on a 9 minute, 17 second drive in the fourth quarter, which was capped off by another Goetsch field goal to extend the lead to 20-14 with 2:23 left in the game. The Titans drove all the way to the Blugold 33 yard line when Charlie Brookshaw (Sr. – Prescott, WI/Prescott) came up with a huge defensive play, sacking Kyle Radavich to force a 3rd and 17. Jared Churak (So. – Huntley, IL/Marian Central) come up with an interception on the next play to put the Titans away.
Procter completed 14 of 25 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown on the day, adding 37 rushing yards. Brian Kulaga (Sr. – Riverside, IL/Riverside-Brookfield) ran for 102 yards on 26 carries. Froelich added 4 catches for 49 yards to his 58-yard touchdown rush.
The Blugold defense was dominant all afternoon, holding Oshkosh to 1 for 11 (9%) on third down conversions and to 160 total yards of offense. The Blugolds also recorded 6 sacks and forced two turnovers. Carmelo Rosado was a difference maker on the defensive side of the ball, recording four tackles, two sacks, forcing a fumble, and blocking a field goal.
The win is Eau Claire's fourth of the season, their most since winning four games in 2012. The Blugolds (4-5, 2-4 WIAC) will host the UW-La Crosse Eagles (6-3, 4-2 WIAC) in the regular season finale next Saturday at 11:30 AM. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day or on the 'UWEC Blugolds' app on your mobile device.