The UW-Eau Claire defense allowed just 160 yards, notched six sacks and created a pair of turnovers, including a game-sealing interception with less than a minute to play, as the Blugolds held on for a 20-14 victory over the UW-Oshkosh football team Saturday (Nov. 3) in Eau Claire.
UW-Eau Claire (4-5, 2-4 WIAC) did not trail after knotting the score at 7 with 11 minutes left in the first quarter. The Blugolds reclaimed third-period advantages of 14-7 on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Scott Procter to Leeshaun Evans and 17-14 following a 40-yard field goal by Brad Goetsch.
UW-Oshkosh (5-4, 3-3 WIAC) reached the Blugold 33-yard line with just over one minute to play, but UW-Eau Claire's Charlie Brookshaw notched a sack for a 7-yard loss ahead of an interception by Jared Churak that secured the Blugolds' win with 58 seconds to play.
UW-Eau Claire snapped its seven-game losing streak to the Titans. The Blugolds earned their first win over UW-Oshkosh since a 20-14 decision on Oct. 30, 2010, in Eau Claire.
The Blugolds concluded the contest with advantages of 358-160 in scrimmage yards, 214-108 in rushing yards, 144-52 in passing yards, 81-42 in offensive plays, 20-11 in first downs, 6-3 in sacks, 2-1 in turnovers, and 41:07 to 18:53 in time of possession.
Brookshaw paced UW-Eau Claire with six tackles, including two for loss. Carmelo Rosado added a pair of sacks and a forced fumble for the Blugolds, who also received quarterback takedowns from Victor Martinelli, Trevor Nelson and Sam Romanski, and a fumble recovery by Jack Drake.
Blugolds quarterback Scott Procter completed 14 of 25 passes for 144 yards and one touchdown. He also ran 18 times for 37 yards.
UW-Eau Claire's Brian Kulaga led all players with 26 carries for 102 yards. Brycen Froehlich, who led the Blugolds with four catches for 49 yards, chipped in a 58-yard touchdown run on his lone carry of the game while Evans and Antwan Moore ended the game with three receptions apiece for a combined 72 yards.
UW-Oshkosh's Kyle Radavich went 5-for-13 passing for 49 yards with one interception.
Chris Hess led the Titans with a career-high 96 rushing yards on just seven carries. Joe Franks had two rushes for 26 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown on his first collegiate carry midway through the third quarter.
Riley Kallas hauled in a team-leading three receptions for 27 yards for UW-Oshkosh.
The Titans' Cole Yoder led all players with a career-best 16 tackles. Brandon Hughes established a career high with nine tackles for UW-Oshkosh while Derrick Jennings Jr. and Scott Skornicka both contributed eight tackles.
UW-Oshkosh took a 7-0 lead after Skornicka sacked Procter and forced a fumble on the Blugolds' third play from scrimmage. Heise scooped up the loose ball and raced 34 yards to the end zone, and Peyton Peterson converted the extra point at the 11:49 mark of the first quarter.
UW-Eau Claire answered quickly as Kulaga rushed for 4 yards on the first play of the ensuing drive before Froehlich sprinted for a 58-yard score on the following play. Goetsch's extra point tied the score with 11:00 left in the opening period.
The teams exchanged punts on the next four possessions, and a dropped fourth-down pass halted a UW-Eau Claire drive at the Titan 32-yard with 2:38 remaining in the first quarter. Hess then broke free for a 53-yard run on the first play of the next UW-Oshkosh drive, but a sack by Romanski and a dropped pass by the Titans preceded Peterson coming up short on a 42-yard field goal as the game remained tied at 7.
Hess added a 27-yard run on the next UW-Oshkosh possession to advance the ball to the Blugold 22-yard line. The Titans gained five more yards over the next three plays, but Titans backup placekicker Jaydon Haag's attempt at a go-ahead 34-yard field was blocked by Rosado.
After punts by both sides, UW-Eau Claire started its final drive of the first half from its own 25-yard line with 5:54 remaining in the second quarter. The Blugolds marched to the Titan 5-yard line in 12 plays on the strength of three third-down completions by Procter. Kulaga ran for 3 yards and, after a UW-Eau Claire timeout with 16 seconds left, Hughes tackled Procter just shy of the goal line as time expired in the second quarter. The Blugolds attempted to spike the ball after Procter's short gain, but referees ruled the clock had run out in the half.
The Blugolds took the first possession of the second half 63 yards in 10 plays, culminating in Evans' spectacular 8-yard touchdown catch on third-and goal. Kulaga rushed four times for 23 yards on the go-ahead scoring drive while Procter completed his lone pass for 7 yards and ran for an additional 17 yards on two carries.
UW-Oshkosh responded with a four-play, 69-yard scoring drive that was aided by a pass interference penalty on the Blugolds. Hess ran for 10 yards to the UW-Eau Claire 25-yard line ahead of Franks' first collegiate touchdown run. A Peterson extra point tied the score at 14 with 8:02 remaining in the third quarter.
Goetsch's 40-yard field goal capped an 11-play, 45-yard drive for a 17-14 Blugold advantage with 2:25 to play in the third period. Kulaga sparked the possession with a 22-yard run. Procter added a 12-yard pass to Froehlich to reach the UW-Oshkosh 22-yard line.
UW-Eau Claire concluded the scoring with a 16-play, 40-yard drive that culminated in a 25-yard field goal from Goetsch with 2:23 to play in the game. The Blugolds attempted 11 runs on the drive.
UW-Oshkosh, which had not advanced past its own 20-yard line since Franks' touchdown run midway through the third quarter, received the ball for the final time at its own 38 following a 23-yard kickoff return by Dom Todarello with 2:23 remaining. Rosado sacked Radavich for a 9-yard loss on a third-and-7 play, but UW-Oshkosh kept the drive going with a 19-yard pass on fourth down from Radavich to Mitchell Gerend.
Radavich then hit Kallas for a 16-yard pass down to the Blugold 33-yard line. An incomplete pass near the end zone from Radavich to Todarello preceded Brookshaw's sack and Churak's game-sealing interception on consecutive plays.
Entering Saturday's game, UW-Eau Claire had not held a lead over UW-Oshkosh in the previous six meetings between the teams.
UW-Oshkosh concludes the season by hosting UW-Stout next Saturday (Nov. 10) at J. J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
Photo courtesy of Chico La Barbera