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Ryan Kusilek kicks the football team to victory

November 7, 2014

The football team now has its first two-game winning streak since September 2009 thanks to the right leg of junior kicker Ryan Kusilek, who kicked three field goals, including the game-winner, in Saturday’s 16-13 overtime victory over visiting UW-La Crosse.

This is also the first time the Falcons have won three games in a season since 2009.

“We talked a lot about using the winning in a positive way to continue to motivate us to keep winning and you know it’s a little bit of juice and energy, whatever you want to call it, that we needed around here and haven’t had in a long time and it’s exiting and feels different around the office in good ways and around the locker-room,” said Head Coach Matt Walker.

The game against the La Crosse Eagles at Ramer Field was deemed the “Coach to Cure MD Game.” Before the game, both the Falcons and the Eagles sat at 2-5 overall.

“It was clearly a big win for us,” Walker said.

The game was another battle of the defenses for the Falcons. The first quarter ended scoreless and showed how evenly matched the two teams were.

In the second quarter, Kusilek connected on a 23-yard field goal after a 19-yard drive with 11:49 remaining to get the Falcons a brief 3-0 lead. With 4:51 left, Eagles kicker Eric Wittkowske made a 23- yard field goal to tie the game at three.

Near the end of the half the Falcons got the lead back with a touchdown run by sophomore running back Rance Ashley after a 75-yard drive with 1:29 remaining. The Falcons went into half time with a 10-3 lead. There was no score in the third quarter until Eagles freshman quarterback John Tackett ran in for a touchdown on an eight-yard scamper to tie the game up at 10.

The Eagles took its first lead of the game with a 39-yard field goal with 12:24 left in the fourth quarter. The Falcons were able to tie it up again with a 31-yard Kusilek field goal with 3:47 left in the fourth quarter. The Falcons defense was then able to block a 50-yard field goal attempt to send the game into overtime.

In overtime, Kusilek drilled a 38- yard field goal in overtime to take the lead 16-13. The Falcons defense then secured the win by blocking a 33-yard field goal attempt.

Kusilek is now acting both as the quarterback and as the kicker for the Falcons. Kusilek had kicked for River Falls High School occasionally.

“It’s been definitely a unique experience to kick at this level,” Kusilek said.

The Falcons have made changes to help them improve. Kusilek said they have stuck together through it all.

“On offense, we are not turning the ball over, that hurt us a lot, pretty much every game we lost we’ve had more turnovers than the other teams,” Kusilek said. “So we’ve really limited that, which has helped on offense and helped keep our defense off the field so they can play well at the end, not exhausted because they have been on the field all day.”

Walker said that he is happy with the results but mostly for everyone involved in the program.

“I’ve never been around a group as dedicated, has worked as hard as these groups I’ve had over these last few years and so to finally get some results for the players, and not just them, but the support staff and all these people that spend all this time at this football thing, it feels good and I’m excited for them,” Walker said.

The Falcons next play at UW-Stout at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 8.