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Record-setting performance leads to Falcons football win

September 26, 2014

A weight that has been sitting on the shoulders of every UWRiver Falls football player has finally been lifted as the football team won its first game of the 2014 season.

It’s not only is the first win for the Falcon’s this season, but the first win for the team since Oct. 27, 2012, when the team defeated WIAC rival UW-Stout 24-14.

The football team traveled over 600 miles to Rapid City, South Dakota, to take on a Div. II opponent on Saturday, Sept. 20. The Falcons would come out on top 43-28.

“It’s a special day for all of us. It’s something we needed bad,” said head coach Matt Walker about the win against the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Hardrockers.

The Falcons started the game slow, going three and out, which led to the Hardrockers going 71 yards down the field on its first possession to score a rushing touchdown and take a 7-0 lead. The Falcons quickly answered back with a rushing touchdown of their own by senior running back Emmanuel Udeh, one of two he would have on the day. The Falcons and Hardrockers would be tied 14-14 after both teams scored receiving touchdowns in the second quarter.

In the second half, the Hardrockers came out with a quick touchdown making it 21-14. It would soon become all Falcons, as the team would score three unanswered touchdowns, two coming on the ground and the other in the air, making the score 35-21. The Hardrockers and Falcons would both score one more touchdown making the final 43-28 in favor of UWRF. The Falcons would finish with impressive stats including 405 passing yards with just over 12 yards per reception, and close to 200 yards on the ground averaging five yards per attempt.

The Falcons were led by junior quarterback Ryan Kusilek who had himself a career day with 501 total yards in the victory. Kusilek threw three touchdowns and threw for 405 yards, which was the most all time in Falcons history. He also led the team in rushing yards with 96. The 501 yards Kusilek accumulated is now the fourth most in WIAC football history. While Kusilek may have had the career game, his teammates around him helped contribute to the win.

“There was a lot of broken tackles by receivers too and that’s the stuff that doesn’t make the stat sheet,” Kusilek said. Senior wide receiver Jordan Christianson led the Falcons with five catches for 119 yards with a pair of touchdowns, followed by senior receivers Jake Ryan and Charles Dixon who combined for 183 receiving yards.

The Falcons offense shouldn’t take all of the credit; the defense had a lights out performance that showed in the victory. The defense was able to hold off an explosive Hardrockers offense led by junior quarterback Trenton McKinney, who leads the team in both rushing and passing. Falcons senior defensive back Kyle Kittel had an impressive performance collecting eight total tackles and breaking up three passes during the team win.

“They tried picking on him because of his height but he just kept battling,” Walker said of Kittel.

Falcons senior defensive back Andy Lundgren also collected seven total tackles; sophomore linebacker Albert Itula had four tackles, one of which was a sack for a seven-yard loss; and senior linebacker Luke Radke had a forced fumble, which he recovered.

The Falcons have the upcoming weekend off but start back up on Saturday, Oct. 4, in a WIAC matchup against UW-Stevens Point. Falcon football fans are excited because the contest will be the homecoming game, as well as the first time the Falcons play on the newly renovated Ramer Field. Kickoff for the homecoming game will be at 2 p.m.