EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (UWECBlugolds.com) - While the UW-Eau Claire football team led late in the fourth, a UW-River Falls touchdown with 21 seconds remaining lifted the Falcons past the Blugolds 45-42 in the season finale for both teams at Carson Park today.
On River Falls' final drive, the Blugolds made a couple costly mistakes that ultimately cost them the game. With the Falcons threatening on the Blugolds' 18-yardline with less than two minutes to go, a sack by Andy Neumann (Jr.-Germantown, Wis.) pushed the Falcons back to the 32-yardline and set up a fourth-and-18.
After a Falcon timeout, quarterback Ryan Luessenheide scampered 19 yards to a first down on the Eau Claire 13. Two plays later Neumann picked up another sack and pushed the Falcons to a third-and-26 on the 29-yardline. On the very next play, Chris Olson (Jr.-Stratford, Wis.) picked off a Luessenheide pass but a pass interference penalty nullified the play and gave the ball to the Falcons on the Blugolds' 19. Four plays later the Falcons found the end zone to give them the lead back. Eau Claire ran five more plays but time expired.
The Blugolds opened the game with a touchdown in the first quarter as Joel Sweeney (Fr.-Tomah, Wis.) ran it in from one yard away. Seven points was all either team put up in the first quarter but it was a shootout after that.
River Falls scored 24 in the second quarter while the Blugolds had 14. David Goodman (Jr.-Neenah, Wis.), who led the Blugolds with 158 receiving yards, scored Eau Claire's second touchdown on an 87-yard pass from Austin Neu (So.-Iron Ridge, Wis./Hustisford). The reception tied for the seventh longest in school history. Matt Olson (Jr.-Stratford, Wis./Stratford/Winona State) was the other Blugold to score in the second, recording a seven-yard touchdown run. He also had the Blugolds' final touchdown of the game, with a run from six yards.
Austin Goetsch (So.-Waunakee, Wis.) also caught two touchdown passes from Neu, one from 30 yards in the third quarter and the other from 14 yards out in the fourth.
Neu finished with 321 yards of passing (17-for-32) while Sweeney led the way rushing with 102 yards. The Blugolds accumulated 521 yards of total offense, the most since last year's season finale at UW-River Falls. River Falls had 538 yards of offense, its largest total since September 26, 2009 in a 40-27 win over Alma College (Mich.).
The Blugold defense finished with three sacks, two from Neumann and one from Brad Nierenhausen (Sr.-Cottage Grove, Minn./Park). Neumann led the game with 12 tackles (11 solos, one assist). Eau Claire also forced four fumbles but recovered only one of them.
River Falls ends the season with a 1-9 overall mark and a 1-6 conference record in head coach John O'Grady's final game. Today's win was their first since an October 31, 2009 overtime win over UW-Platteville. The Blugolds finished the year with a record of 4-6 overall and 2-5 in conference play. The combined score of 87 points ties for the ninth most on the Blugolds' all-time list.