La Crosse, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football team earned its first win of the season with 31-28 victory over UW-Stevens Point Saturday afternoon at Roger Harring Stadium at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex. The Eagles improve to 1-3 overall and 1-1 in the WIAC while the Pointers fall to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the conference. UW-L, which earned its first win under first-year head coach Joel Dettwiler, snaps a three-game losing streak to UW-Stevens Point with Saturday's win.
The Eagles rallied from a 28-14 fourth quarter deficit Saturday. The Pointers took a 28-14 lead with 4:52 remaining in the third after Jim Drida caught a 12-yard pass from Casey Barnes. Barnes then rushed in for the two-point conversion.
UW-L began its comeback in the fourth quarter. The Eagles converted a fourth down and two from UW-Stevens Point's 34-yard line on Kevin Lindh's four-yard run on a fake punt. UW-L later faced a fourth-and-five at UW-Stevens Point's 25-yard line. The Eagles lined up for a 42-yard field goal attempt byJustin Huinker, but holder Kevin Schams took the snap, rolled out to the right and threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Nate Ward to make it 28-21.
After forcing a Pointers' punt on the next possession, the Eagles went 71 yards on six plays to tie the game. Mike Butterfield threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Tony Bilderback with 4:35 remaining. Butterfield had connected with Ward on a 29-yard pass play earlier in the drive.
UW-Stevens Point, receiving votes on this week's AFCA and D3football.com Top-25 Polls, took the ensuing kickoff and drove to the UW-L 32-yard line, but Jared Fohrman missed wide right on a 49-yard field goal attempt with 1:00 left. UW-L converted a pair of third-down attempts on the next drive, including Butterfield rushing for 14 yards on a third-and-10 to the UW-Stevens Point 43-yard line. After an incompletion, Butterfield hit Bilderback with a 42-yard pass down to the Pointers' one-yard line with :04 left. Each team used a timeout before Huinker made the game-winning 18-yard field goal with :01 remaining.
The Pointers returned the following kickoff to their own 27-yard line on the final play of the drive.
UW-L took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on Butterfield's 20-yard pass to Ben Hertrampf with 5:34 left. UW-Stevens Point came back on the next possession to tie the contest as Barnes threw a nine-yard touchdown pass to Mike Mullins with 2:05 left in the first quarter.
Fohrman gave the Pointers a 10-7 lead with 11:50 remaining in the second quarter on a 37-yard field goal. UW-Stevens Point took a 17-7 lead on Cory Flisakowski's eight-yard run with 1:53 left in the second, but UW-L quickly cut the lead to 17-14 as Butterfield scored on a 58-yard run with 1:30 remaining.
UW-L forced a punt on the next possession, but Butterfield fumbled after a 17-yard run and UW-Stevens Point took over at the Eagles' 49-yard line with :37 left. The Pointers went 31 yards on five plays setting up Fohrman's 35-yard field goal to make it 20-14 at halftime.
UW-L finished with 392 yards of offense, including 185 rushing and 207 passing. Butterfield had a team-high 90 yards rushing on 10 carries and one touchdown while also finishing 17-of-27 passing for 182 yards and two touchdowns. He had one interception. Lindh finished with 48 yards rushing on 15 attempts while Hertrampf had 47 yards on eight carries.
Ward (78 yards, one touchdown) and Jake Welch (40 yards) each had five receptions for the Eagles. Bilderback finished with three catches for 54 yards and one touchdown while Hertrampf had two catches for 23 yards and a touchdown .
UW-Stevens Point had 370 yards Saturday, including 91 rushing and 279 passing. Flisakowski had 46 yards rushing on 20 carries and a touchdown with Keith Ingram finishing with 44 yards on seven attempts. Barnes was 25-of-41 for 279 yards and two touchdowns with an interception.
Mike Mullins had 10 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown for the Pointers while Ingram caught nine for 59 yards and a touchdown.
UW-L was four-of-11 on third-down, but converted both of its fourth-down attempts. UW-Stevens Point was four-of-15 on third-down. The Pointers won the time of possession, 34:05 to 25:55. UW-L had four turnovers (three fumbles).
John Rozek led the Eagles' defense with 16 tackles, including 4.0 for loss. Jake Meckstroth had 11 tackles, including 1.0 for loss, and one interception. Matthew Buswell finished with 10 tackles. Brandon Heeg had two sacks for UW-L.
Cody Seibel had nine tackles (eight unassisted) for the Pointers while Joe Mleziva had seven tackles and an interception. Justin Scray and Mitch Chester each had 2.0 tackles for loss.
UW-L returns to action Saturday, October 8 hosting Jamestown College (N.D.) at 1 p.m.