Lucky number seven for football team

If someone were to look at the stat sheets, it would have appeared that UW-Eau Claire defeated the UW-Whitewater football team by a lot.

Junior Tyler Huber jumps up and makes a nice catch against junior Tyler Janus of the BluGolds. Huber led the ’Hawks with three catches for 42 yards with a touchdown. Photo by Chico La Barbera- http://chico.zenfolio.com/

But if someone looked at the scoreboard from Saturday, they would have seen that the Warhawks defeated the BluGolds 37-22.

The BluGolds led the ’Hawks in first downs (18-16), passing yards (330-95), total yards (399-393) and had less punts (3-1).

That didn’t matter as the ’Hawks continued to play clean, crisp football while making big plays when it mattered the most.

“Each week we go through practice and our coaches always emphasize the fundamentals that they teach with getting techniques down and that is what they pride themselves on,” senior Cory Robinson said. “That is hard work with days off and the little things the coaches talk to us about.”

Although the ’Hawks may not have outnumbered the BluGolds on offense, they converted on 10-14 third downs, rushed for just under 300 yards and forced three turnovers.

They converted those turnovers into points, which also helped.

“The defense came up with some big plays, some big turnovers and gave us good field position for most the first half,” Robinson said. “We just took advantage of that and capitalized.”

The Warhawks held a 14-7 halftime lead and only a 21-14 lead late into the third quarter, but after a defensive safety and two touchdown passes from Matt Blanchard early in the fourth quarter, the ’Hawks took a 37-14 lead.

Robinson said that the BluGolds really focused on the pass game, which opened up an opportunity for Levell Coppage, who continued to be himself. Coppage rushed for 236 yards on 36 carries, including a touchdown.

“He is a pretty special guy, but that is what teams are going to do,” Robinson said. “They have to either choose to defend the run or choose to defend the pass. They decided to defend the pass and that gives Levell the chance to run the ball.”

Inside the red zone, it was a different story for the ’Hawks. Being stuffed trying to use the run game, the ’Hawks attacked them through the air. Blanchard was 10-15 for only 95 yards, but connected with four different wide recievers for touchdowns. The four touchdowns are a career high.

“We got in the red zone and the Eau Claire defense did a good job of forcing us to pass,” Blanchard said. “When we did, we executed and made the most of our opportunities. There are times when you get in the red zone and it’s really tight, so Saturday was just a day we felt like we could attack them through the red zone.”

The ’Hawks will look to finish off their final game of the season Saturday at 1 p.m. against UW-La Crosse. They will look to go undefeated for the third year in a row. With it being senior night, Blanchard admits it will be pretty emotional.

“I think we’ve been spoiled over the last couple years with everyone and our success, but I think when you get to senior week and you have all the traditions, it’s emotional,” Blanchard said. “The fact that it’s almost the end but it’s really not … it’s a great time for us to come together even more. It is great to look back and look at all the memories.”

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