Yesterday my good friend Wil Denson and I went to River Falls for the final game of the UW Eau Claire Blugold football team's season. I did my obligatory checking of weather on the computer: FORTY SIX DEGREES HIGH, PARTLY CLOUDY, THIRTY PER CENT CHANCE OF RAIN. so I put on my light long underwear, a heavy turtle neck, my brand spankin' new UW EAU CLAIRE hoodie sweat shirt, a heavy pair of jeans, heavy sock and tennis shoes, and grabbed a blanket and rain jacket (just in case).
I drove down to Wil's house, parked in his driveway as street parking was crowded with student autos, we piled into Wil's new Taureg, and took off via the scenic back roads to River Falls. We got into River Falls around 11:30 AM and looked around for a Sports Bar where we could get a burger and watch Badger football.
the first bar we hit had the game, but no burgers, so we made our way across the main drag to a place called Bo's and Mine which turned out to have the opposite set up: plenty of burgers, but no Badger football. NO BADGER FOOTBALL?? What? Did we somehow cross the river into Minnesota?
Our waitress, Brittany, was most aplogetic. We decided that time being of the essence, we would watch Purdue/Michigan State and eat lunch.
We both ordered burgers of one sort or another. Mine was the "Badger Burger" - guess I was still miffed about not being able to see the Badgers - and it was very good! A third pound of hamburger with real cheddar cheese and a couple slices of fried bacon - hello Brittany, Good bye heart -
When we got to Ramer field, Wil found a handicap parking spot closer to the field, but we still had to hike a good quarter of a mile to get to the stands. I noticed that Wil was putting on extra clothing and a pair of heavy gloves. I thought to myself: "Man! He must get cold easily. He'll be stripping off some of that stuff before kick off."
We finally got to the visitor side of the field and I began to really appreciate Eau Claire's Carson Park as soon as I began trying to climb the aluminum benches that served as seating. There were no aisles. I had to giant step from bench to bench with my bad right knee and almost lost it a couple of times, but finally made it to our chosen area right above the 50 yard line.
Pre-game, we were "entertained" by the River Falls University Band. Again, I began to really appreciate Eau Claire. We have this amazing 75-100 piece show marching band. River Falls' doesn't have a marching band at all. After they were introduced over the public address system, I could hear a thin sounding combo, but it took me about five minutes to discover that they were seated in the bleachers across from us and they were not a marching band at all, but rather a rather large jazz combo - the kind that made you want to yell DON'T GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB!
We hadn't been seated more than ten minutes before I began to realize that I was the one who had not dressed correctly! The flags of all the state universities were snapping and flapping straight out at us from the far side of the field and the sky was so overcast that the lights had been turned on.
I began to shiver so I put on my rain coat and pulled up the hood on my sweat shirt and secured it tightly with the laces to prevent the wind from whistling in and around my head. Having no gloves, I forced my hands back up my sleeves which did little good.
By the end of the first quarter, I knew I would not make it through the entire game. The game had turned into an offensive shooting match as neither team's defense seemed to be able to hold their opponent from scoring.
At one point, one of EC's leading receivers, Spence Kehoe (#2) upon being tackled, fell awkwardly, and was severely injured.
The crew on the sidelines stripped off his jersey and shoulder pads and he stood watching the game in just a tee shirt and his football pants! Tough kid! He later disappeared for a bit then returned with an ice pack and his arm in a sling. We found out that he had broken his collar bone on the play.
As soon as the half ended I stood up and announced to Wil that I hoped he would accept my humblest apologies, but please, PLEASE, give me the damn car keys - I am frickin' freezin' to death!
Knowing that I had just lost about 700 "manly points" I trudged back towards the parking lot, mumbling and wiping my runny nose. I finally reached the concessions stand, stood in a long line in hopes of hot chocolate, but alas, no hot choclolate. Instead, "hot" apple cider, which was barely luke warm. I quickly quaffed that as I moved not towards the car but to the Kwik Trip gas station at the end of the parking lot where I secured a very large steaming styrofoam cup of hot chocolate.
I hung around inside the station because of its heavenly warmth and then fortified by the hot drink, I proceeded to the car where I managed to find not only the heater but also the game in progress on the radio.
Second half the Blugolds defense suddenly found life and the offense continued to score thanks to running back Corey Sartorelli, QB Kyle Paulson and tight end #86, ( sorry - can't remember names, I plead frozen brain) who made some spectacular catches first half - and the Blugolds closed their season with a win. 49 -35.
River Falls Ramer Field sucks!
There. I said it!
Here is the official University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire report on yesterday's game:
Football Ends Season on High Note
By: Kevin Meinholz, Sports Information Director
Posted: Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 6:46 PM
RIVER FALLS, Wis. (UWECBlugolds.com) - The UW-Eau Claire football team ended its 2009 campaign on a high note, defeating UW-River Falls 49-35 at Ramer Field today.
The Blugolds avenge two losses which they suffered to the Falcons each of the last two years. Eau Claire ends its season with a 6-4 overall and 4-3 conference record, taking fourth place in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. River Falls finished with a 2-8 mark on the season and 1-6 in conference play.
The teams battled back and forth in the first quarter before River Falls doubled up the score on the Blugolds in the second quarter. River Falls got on the board right off the bat with a touchdown but the Blugolds answered right back with a touchdown of their own. The Falcons added another on their next possession, as did the Blugolds, and River Falls once again scored to end the first quarter on top 21-14.
The Falcons then took a 28-14 lead with just over 9 minutes left in the half but the Blugolds again had an answer and found the end zone to cut the Falcon lead back to seven. On the Blugolds' next drive, they tied the game back up and just before the end of the half, scored again to make the score 35-28 in favor of Eau Claire.
The Blugolds added a touchdown in each of the next two quarters, while River Falls scored with 6:34 left in the game to make the score 49-35. The Blugolds punted twice the rest of the game and River Falls had a good drive that lasted 12 plays and went 72 yards but stalled on the Blugolds' 20 to give the ball back to Eau Claire for the final time.
Eau Claire finished the game with 574 yards of offense, 229 rushing and 345 passing while River Falls had 198 on the ground and 296 through the air for a total of 494.
Cory Sartorelli (Sr.-Appleton, Wis./North) led the Blugolds with 163 rushing yards while Kyle Paulson (Sr.-Amery, Wis.) had 66. Paulson also finished with a career-high 345 yards passing with 26 completions on 35 attempts and three touchdowns. His longest pass of the day came on a 49-yard touchdown catch by David Goodman (So.-Neenah, Wis.), who had 111 receiving yards to lead Eau Claire.
Granger Taft (Jr.-Rosemount, Minn.) led Eau Claire on the defensive side of the ball with 10 tackles, including one sack for a loss of seven yards. Kyle Thorpe (Fr.-Stanley, Wis./Stanley-Boyd/Moorhead St.) was part of the games' only turnover as he picked off a pass in the second quarter, which then led to the Blugolds' going up 35-28 on the ensuing drive.