By Bryce Meade, UWEC Sports Information
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire football team defeated the visiting UW-River Falls Falcons in Eau Claire's 2019 homecoming game, 27-14 on Saturday afternoon.
A 10-plus yard run from each Braden O'Laughlin (So. – Lake Geneve/Badger), Conrad Bolz (Jr. – Medford), and Austin Belot (Jr. – Neenah) drove the Blugolds deep into Falcon territory on the game's opening drive. Jonathan Malueg (So. – Stoughton) found a wide open Seth Luckman (So.-New Berlin/Eisenhower), who ran in for a 21-yard touchdown to put Eau Claire up 7-0 just over four minutes into the game.
The Blugolds started their next drive with great field position, as a blocked punt by Victor Martinelli (Jr. – Milton) gave Eau Claire the ball at the visitor's 29-yard line. The Blugolds capitalized on the opportunity when a 25-yard field goal from Edgar Ficke-Anderson (So. Walker, MN/Walker Hackensack Akeley) extended the lead to 10 at the 6:44 mark in the first quarter.
Neither team managed much offense until River Falls quarterback Ben Beckman took a quarterback sneak in from the one to pull within 3 points late in the second quarter.
The Blugolds responded quickly with a touchdown of their own when Belot took a touchdown in from three yards out to put them back up by 10 going into the break.
River Falls marched 78 yards on the opening drive of the second half to pull back within three points, 17-14, on drive capped off by a five-yard touchdown run from Luke Fugate.
Eau Claire drove 54 yards on the following drive but were denied points when Belot was stopped short on a fourth-and-one at the River Falls 24-yard line.
The Blugolds forced a punt on the next Falcon drive and took over on their own 21. Belot took the first play of the drive 28 yards and the second 51 yards for a Blugold touchdown to put Eau Claire up by 10 for the third time, 24-14.
Another River Falls punt turned the ball back over to Eau Claire at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Blugolds burned nearly 10 minutes of clock on an 18-play, 62-yard drive that ended with another field goal from Ficke-Anderson that put Eau Claire up 27-14, and turned out to be the final score of the game.
The Blugolds outgained River Falls 447 to 205 in total offensive yards. Austin Belot ran for a career-high 223 yards on 30 attempts and two touchdowns. Bolz added 61 yards on the ground. Killy Kitzmann (So. – Eau Claire/Memorial) and Seth Luckman led Blugold receivers with 22 and 21 yards respectively.
With the win, Eau Claire improves to 1-1 in conference play and 3-2 overall. The Blugolds will travel to Oshkosh next Saturday to take on the UW-Oshkosh Titans at 1:30 PM. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day or on the 'UWEC Blugolds' app from your mobile device.