La Crosse, Wis. - The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football team earned a 45-14 victory over UW-Eau Claire Saturday afternoon at Roger Harring Stadium at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex. The Eagles improve to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) while the Blugolds drop to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the conference. It marks the second straight season UWL has won its first five games of the year.
UWL is receiving votes on this week's D3football.com and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Top-25 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III Polls.
Each team punted on its first possessions of the game. UW-Eau Claire was forced to punt at its own eight-yard line early in the first quarter when Brad
Goetsch had his punt blocked by UWL's Cole Spieker, who then recovered the ball in the end-zone for a touchdown with 11:43 left in the first quarter to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead. Later in the quarter, UW-Eau Claire's Matt Herring fumbled with UWL's Zachary Zillmer recovering the ball at the Blugolds' 30-yard line. Two plays later, Tarek Yaeggi hit Nick Holcomb for a 27-yard touchdown pass and the Eagles led 14-0 with 6:36 remaining in the first quarter.
UWL took a 21-0 lead on the next play from scrimmage as Luke Winnen intercepted a J.T. DenHartog pass and returned it 28-yards for a touchdown with 6:28 left in the first quarter. The Eagles led 21-0 at the end of the first scoring a special teams, offensive and defensive touchdown.
Bryce Wesling's 21-yard field goal with 9:27 left in the second quarter gave UWL a 24-0 lead as the Eagles went 52 yards in 10 plays and 4:14. After a UW-Eau Claire punt was downed at the UWL five-yard line with 7:30 left in the second quarter, the Eagles drove 95 yards in nine plays and 4:06 as Yaeggi hit Spieker on a 20-yard touchdown pass. UWL led 31-0 with 3:31 remaining.
The Blugolds got on the board on their next possession, going 78 yards in eight plays and 2:04 with Scott Proctor scoring on a one-yard run. The Blugolds had been held to six yards on their previous 25 offensive plays before the scoring drive. UWL led 31-7 at halftime.
After no scoring in the third quarter, UWL took a 38-7 advantage with 14:11 left in the fourth quarter on Troy Bailey's 35-yard touchdown run. The drive went 80 yards in four plays and 1:15. UW-Eau Claire responded with a scoring drive of its own on the next possession with Proctor scoring on a 30-yard run with 12:32 remaining. The Blugolds went 75 yards in four plays and 1:45.
Yaeggi finished the scoring on a 33-yard connection with Holcomb with 6:37 left in the game to make it 45-14. UWL went 39 yards in four plays and 2:23.
UWL finished with 423 yards of offense, including 133 rushing and 290 passing. Yaeggi went 15-of-33 for 290 yards with three touchdowns while Holcomb finished with five catches for 129 yards and two touchdowns. Ryan Kruser caught five passes for 80 yards. Bailey led the Eagles with 82 yards rushing on 18 attempts with one touchdown.
UWL finished five-of-15 on third-down and one-of-one on fourth-down. The Eagles were two-of-three in the red-zone.
UW-Eau Claire totaled 284 yards with 138 rushing and 146 passing. Proctor went nine-of-17 passing for 142 yards with one interception while DenHartog finished one-of-four for four yards with one interception. Both quarterbacks were sacked twice. Proctor led the Blugolds with 58 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 21 carries while Darious Jones had three catches for 86 yards.
The Blugolds were four-of-14 on third-down while missing all three of their fourth-down attempts. UW-Eau Claire was one-of-one in the red-zone and won the time of possession, 33:59 to 26:01.
Jacob Krueger led UWL's defense with 12 tackles while Noah Risch finished with 10. Krueger had 1.5 tackles for loss with Risch finishing with 3.0, Zillmer 2.0 and Kissling 1.0. Zillmer also had 1.5 quarterback sacks. UWL finished with 4.0 sacks and tied a season-high with 13.0 tackles for loss.
Victor Martinelli, Drew Hurley, Sam Romanski and Dillon Kempen led UW-Eau Claire with six tackles each.
UWL returns to action Friday, October 13 at UW-Whitewater at 7 p.m.