Joel Sweeney ran for 232 yards and posted the game-clinching 20-yard catch to lead UW-Eau Claire to a 20-14 victory over the UW-Oshkosh football team on Saturday (Oct. 30) in Eau Claire.
In addition to his 42 carries, Sweeney grabbed Austin Neu's third-down toss in the closing minutes. Neu escaped the Titans' defense and found his tailback to help the Blugolds (4-4/2-3 WIAC) run out the clock. UW-Oshkosh (4-4/3-2 WIAC) trailed 20-0 with just over seven minutes left, but it scored a pair of touchdowns to make things interesting. The Titans were doomed in the contest by three turnovers and three fourth-down failures.
Neither offense accomplished much during the opening 25 minutes of play. The game's first score came when Charlie Weissman (Jr. • Colgate) fumbled at his own 13-yard line during the opening quarter. Chris Olson scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 13 yards to give the Blugolds a 7-0 lead.
The Titans got a turnover of their own midway through the first, with Jacob Juedes (So. • Sheboygan Falls) recovering a fumble in UW-Eau Claire territory. Matt Haass (Sr. • Brownsville) then threw an interception on fourth down as the Blugolds stayed on top.
Sweeney made sure his team increased its cushion before halftime. Starting at his own 42-yard line, Sweeney rushed the ball on 11 consecutive plays. Just one of those carries (15 yards) went for a gain of more than seven. After converting a 4th-and-1, he sprinted in for a seven-yard touchdown with 42 seconds left. The Blugolds took a 13-0 advantage into the break.
UW-Oshkosh went 0-for-7 on third-down conversions in the opening half, but it moved the ball early in the third quarter. Jake Dostalek (So. • Waterford) caught passes for gains of seven, nine and 18 yards to enter the Blugolds' side of the field. Following Nate Wara's (So. • Oshkosh) 11-yard carry, he was picked off at the goal line by Mark Bader.
The Titans' next possession featured 13 plays, including a 20-yard grab from Garrie Fox (Jr. • Madison) on third-and-long. That drive ended with a turnover on downs at the UW-Eau Claire 23-yard line. From there, the Blugolds marched 77 yards while taking eight minutes off the clock. They got huge conversions thanks to a UW-Oshkosh personal foul and a reception of 20 yards by David Goodman. Sweeney ran for 13 and two yards to cap the drive with a touchdown and make it 20-0 with 9:17 remaining.
Good field position allowed UW-Oshkosh to record a quick scoring drive midway through the final quarter. Wara hooked up with Paul Coburn (Sr. • Sussex) to keep the offense moving. After running for a 29-yard gain, Wara hustled into the end zone from six yards out to cut the deficit to 20-7 with 7:03 to play.
Fox took back a punt 23 yards to set up another opportunity for quick points. Dostalek got things started with a 14-yard run. With 3:08 to play, Dostalek ran around the corner and barreled in for a 10-yard score to make the margin six points. Dostalek totaled 55 yards on 12 attempts, while Wara compiled a career-high 98 rushing yards on 14 carries.
The Titans finished 6-of-15 on third down, while UW-Eau Claire went 8-for-16. The Blugolds held a slight edge in rushing yards, 242-241, as each squad threw for less than 154. Following two weeks of 75 percent or better passing, Wara hit 15-of-31 attempts for 134 yards. Neu didn't throw a touchdown either in going 13-of-23 for 153 yards.
UW-Eau Claire, which snapped a three-game losing streak, was led by Goodman's five receptions for 67 yards. Andy Neumann paced his defense with nine tackles (all solo). On this date last season, the Blugolds notched a 44-35 win in Oshkosh.
UW-Oshkosh's defense got eight tackles from both Adam Lochmann (So. • Colgate) and Vince Sciano (Jr. • Franklin). Nate Heard (Sr. • Milwaukee) posted an interception for the Titans, who were held under 28 points for just the second time this year. Fox pulled down five passes for 51 yards to lead his offense.
National powerhouse and top-ranked UW-Whitewater comes to J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium next Saturday (Nov. 6) for UW-Oshkosh's final home game of the 2010 season.