By Bryce Meade, UWEC Sports Information
DE PERE, Wis. (Blugolds.com) – The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire football team fell on the road to the St. Norbert Green Knights in a nonconference matchup on Saturday afternoon, 27-21.
The Blugold defense was challenged immediately after Eau Claire turned the ball over on their first offensive snap. The defense stood tall and forced a 39-yard field goal attempt for St. Norbert that missed wide.
After driving deep into Blugold territory again, the Green Knights were stopped on a 4th and 6 when Sam Romanski (Sr. – Wausau/East) sacked quarterback Freddy Poorman. The Blugolds capitalized on the stop just three plays later when Austin Belot (Jr. – Neenah) took a handoff 33 yards to put Eau Claire up 7-0 late in the first quarter.
A St. Norbert touchdown pass from Gage McClanahan to Matt Galanopoulos at the 13:50 mark of the 2nd quarter evened the score at seven. After punting on the following drive, the Eau Claire defense came up with another big play, jumping on a fumble on a botched option pitch by McClanahan. Despite taking over at the St. Norbert 31-yard line, the Blugold drive ended with a punt.
McClanahan connected with Samuel Staehling for a 90-yard touchdown on the very next play, although an apparent false start by McClanahan went uncalled prior to the snap. The Green Knights took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
St. Norbert extended their lead early in the second half when they returned an interception for a 31-yard touchdown to go ahead 21-7. Austin Belot's second touchdown of the day was set up by a Carmelo Rosado (Jr. – Beaver Dam) interception and brought the Blugolds back within a touchdown. Eau Claire entered the fourth down 21-14.
McClanahan found Staehling for another touchdown early in the final quarter, this time from 38 yards out to push the lead to 27-14. Another interception from Rosado led to Blugolds points when Conrad Bolz (Jr. – Medford) capped a long drive with a touchdown run to bring Eau Claire within six with just under five minutes to play.
After forcing a punt, the Blugolds took over at their own 36 for what would be their last chance of the game with 2:50 remaining. Josiah Johnson (So. – Minneapolis/St. Anthony Village) led a methodical drive all the way down to the St. Norbert seven-yard line, but time expired after a 2nd and goal attempt, as Eau Claire fell just short, 27-21.
Austin Belot led the Blugold offense with 128 yards on 26 carries to go along with his pair of touchdowns. Josiah Johnson saw his first significant playing time as a Blugold and completed 15 of 20 passes for 137 yards. Antwan Moore (Sr.- Evergreen Park IL.) and Will Adair (So. – Ashwaubenon) each hauled in four passes for 44 and 24 yards, respectively.
Alex Mashak (Jr. – Lodi) totaled seven solo tackles, three tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery. Sam Romanski added seven tackles and a sack while Carmelo Rosado picked off two passes for a Blugold defense that made several huge plays.
Eau Claire falls to 1-1 on the season and, following a bye next weekend, will host St. Thomas (Minn.) at Carson Park on September 28 at 6:10 PM. Follow the action on Blugold Game Day or on the 'UWEC Blugolds' app from your mobile device.