EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – Despite keeping the score close early against No. 1-ranked UW-Whitewater, the UW-Eau Claire football team was unable to keep up and fell 37-22 at Carson Park.
The Blugolds opened the game with the ball and took it almost the entire length of the field before Whitewater's Noah Timm intercepted an Austin Neu (Jr.-Iron Ridge, Wis./Hustisford) pass on the one yard line. The Warhawks then marched the other way and scored a touchdown after 13 plays to take the initial lead.
But the on very next drive, the Blugolds tied the game after scoring on a 12-play, 82-yard drive. Neu capped the drive with a screen pass to Joel Sweeney (So.-Tomah, Wis.), who went 17 yards to the end zone.
While the Warhawks were forced to punt on the next drive, the Blugolds gave the ball back four plays later when Timm again picked off a Neu pass. It took Whitewater just three plays to find the end zone for the second time and the Warhawks took a 14-7 lead.
In the second half, Whitewater took the opening kickoff 65 yards to the Blugolds' 11 and a horse-collar tackle tacked on six more yards to give the Warhawks the ball on Eau Claire's five yard line. Levell Coppage found the end zone after two plays to give the Warhawks a two-touchdown lead.
But the Blugolds didn't give up and after three plays on the next drive, Neu hit David Goodman (Sr.-Neenah, Wis.) with a 49-yard pass for a touchdown. The catch for Goodman put him in third place on the Blugolds' all-time touchdown reception list as he now has 18 for his career.
While the Blugolds were down by just seven (21-14), Whitewater then went on a 16-0 run before the Blugolds could answer. The Blugolds gave the Warhawks two points when a snap went over the punter's head and out of the end zone for a safety. Whitewater scored two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to build a 37-14 lead.
Sweeney found the end zone once more midway through the fourth and the Blugolds added a two-point conversion to get within 15. The score was set up in large part with the help of Austin Goetsch (Jr.-Waunakee, Wis.) as he caught back-to-back passes, one of 43 yards and another of 35 yards, to get the Blugolds near the goal line. Goetsch finished the game with a career-high 177 receiving yards, a mark that ranks 10th for most receiving yards in a game for the Blugolds.
The Blugolds actually outgained the Warhawks 399-393 and held Whitewater to 95 yards passing. The 393 yards of offense is the lowest total the Warhawks have achieved this season while the 95 passing yards is the fewest Whitewater has reached since October 4, 2008 (94 vs. UW-La Crosse). The Blugolds had 330 yards passing but had just 69 on the ground.
On defense, Chad Samuelson (Sr.-St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall) led the Blugolds with 11 tackles and forced one fumble.
Whitewater improves to 9-0 on the season and 6-0 in conference, capturing the WIAC title outright. They have won 39 straight games, currently the longest winning streak in college football, any division. Eau Claire drops to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in conference play.
Next Saturday the Blugolds will wrap up the season at UW-River Falls. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.