John Tackett threw for three first half touchdowns prior to leaving the game due to injury, and UW-L did just enough defensively to hold off UW-Eau Claire for a 27-25 win Saturday at Roger Harring Stadium.
The Eagles (2-2 WIAC, 3-4 overall) are now 3-0 at home this season, and beat the Blugolds (0-4 WIAC, 0-7 overall) for the second straight season.
UW-L marched 75 yards in its first three plays to take a 7-0 lead after Tackett connected with Sam Zwieg just 48 seconds into the game.
After a Blugolds missed field goal, UW-L scored again when Tackett connected with Joel Oxton for a 28-yard touchdown pass. It nearly didn't happen though, as a Blugolds interception was negated by a holding penalty earlier in the drive.
UW-Eau Claire responded with a touchdown drive of its own, with Toure Wallace finding the end zone on a 15-yard run, to cut the lead to 14-7 at the end of the opening quarter.
UW-L struck again early in the second quarter by covering 90 yards in two plays. First, Austin Mancosky broke free for a 80-yard run down to the Blugolds 10. On the next play, Tackett found Oxton in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown to increase the Eagles' lead to 21-7. Tackett later injured his shoulder and left the game before halftime. He finished the day 9-for-14 with 128 yards passing and three touchdowns.
Andrew Thompson filled in and went 2-for-5 for 25 yards. Mancosky led the Eagles offense with 111 rushing yards on five carries.
The Blugolds added a pair of field goals before halftime to close within 21-13, then converted another in the third quarter to close within 21-16.
Mike Santucci took the ensuing kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown, the first kickoff taken back for a score since 2007. The extra point was blocked, making the score 27-16 in favor of UW-L after three quarters. UW-L
UW-Eau Claire pulled to within 27-19 early in the fourth quarter on Liam O'Malley's fourth field goal of the day, setting a new school record. The Blugolds would score again about four minutes later on Wallace's second touchdown run of the day, closing to within 27-25. Wallace finished the game with 235 yards rushing on 33 carries.
Eau Claire went for the 2-point conversion, which was broken up in the end zone by UW-L's Jon Becker.
After a UW-L punt, UW-Eau Claire marched back down inside the UW-L 30, but was forced to settle for a 42-yard field goal try, which was missed wide to the left. The Blugolds made four of six field goals on the day.
UW-L converted a first down to burn clock and force the Blugolds to use their timeouts, but decided to punt on fourth and one from the Eagles 49, giving UW-Eau Claire one last chance for a game-winning score.
The Blugolds' drive stalled after only one first down however, as JT Denhartog's pass on fourth and 5 at the Blugolds 40 with 9 seconds left was broken up by Ryan Weber.
The Blugolds had the advantage in most statistical categories Saturday, but settled for four field goals in six red zone trips. Both missed field goals came just outside the red zone.
UW-L converted both of its red zone trips into touchdowns, but also had five plays of 20 yards or more, not including the 88-yard kickoff return.
The Eagles will travel to UW-Stevens Point (1-3 WIAC, 3-4 overall) on Saturday, October 31.