It took a while to come up with it, but the UW-Eau Claire football team finally threw a knockout punch late in the third quarter on Saturday.
The Blugolds led Loras 7-6 as a defensive battle of a game inched toward the final period in Dubuque. Nicholas Kudick finally bucked the trend though, rushing for a 3-yard touchdown with 1:44 left in the third to open the floodgates for Eau Claire.
The Blugolds pulled away from there, defeating the Duhawks 28-6 to improve to 2-0 this season.
A few minutes after Kudick's touchdown, Blugolds running back Austin Belot broke off a 36-yard touchdown run to extend Eau Claire's lead to 20-6 early in the fourth. Jonathan Malueg threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Trey Fitzgerald with 7:45 to go to put the finishing touches on the victory.
The Blugolds defense turned in another solid display a week after holding Luther to 14 points. They came up with an interception and allowed only five third-down conversions on 15 tries.
Joe Swanson caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Malueg in the final minute of the first half to put Eau Claire up 7-0. But Loras (0-2) answered midway through the third quarter on Noah Sigwarth's 3-yard touchdown run.
The Eau Claire defense came up big the rest of the way. They allowed only one drive of more than five plays the rest of the way.
Belot, fresh off setting a Blugolds single-game rushing record in Week 1, ran for 126 yards on 21 carries against Loras. Malueg was 12 of 21 passing for 123 yards. He threw two scores but was intercepted once.
Defensively, Carmelo Rosado had an interception and eight tackles to lead the Blugolds.
Eau Claire finishes out its nonconference schedule with a game at Albion next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m.
UW-Eau Claire 28, Loras 6
UWEC: Joe Swanson 8 pass from Jonathan Malueg (Brady Frantal kick), 0:57.
L: Noah Sigwarth 3 run (kick failed), 9:22.
UWEC: Nicholas Kudick 3 run (Frantal kick), 1:44.
UWEC: Austin Belot 36 run (Frantal kick), 12:14.
UWEC: Trey Fitzgerald 4 pass from Malueg (Frantal kick), 7:45.
Team & Individual Statistics
RUSHING (att-yds): UW-Eau Claire (42-227): Belot 21-126, Malueg 4-30, Kudick 4-25, Ivan Ruble 6-17, Fitzgerald 2-13, David Antoine 3-11, Carter Grant 2-5. Loras (33-157): Ty Bausch 10-48, Sigwarth 14-44, Jamel Britt 4-34, Elijah Thomas 4-33, Mason Morris 1-3.
PASSING (comp-att-int-yds): UW-Eau Claire: Malueg 12-21-2-123, Harry Roubidoux 0-1-0-0. Loras: Sigwarth 15-31-1-123, Devon Moore 1-4-0-30.
RECEIVING (rec-yds): UW-Eau Claire: Isaac Garside 3-34, Seth Luckman 1-32, Swanson 2-18, Will Adair 1-11, Kudick 1-8, Braden O'Laughlin 1-6, Antoine 1-5, Brycen Froehlich 1-5, Fitzgerald 1-4. Loras: Mani Brown 3-41, Hunter Matye 1-30, Dwayne Emilus 2-20, Thomas 4-18, Je'Von Williams 2-17, Michael Crawford 2-11, Bausch 1-9, Mike McDevitt 1-7.