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Strong Falcon defense falls short against UW-Stevens Point

October 10, 2014

The old saying goes, “defense wins championships.”

On Saturday the Falcons played hard-nosed defense, but it wasn’t enough to come out with a victory in the UW-River Falls’ home opener.

The Falcons lost to WIAC opponent the UW-Stevens Point Pointers 17-14 in its annual Homecoming game. The Pointers came into the match-up ranked 17th in the nation in Div. III football.

Falcons sophomore defensive back Tyler Ledbeter tackles UW-Stevens Point junior running back De-Juan Wright during the Homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 4.
Falcons sophomore defensive back Tyler Ledbeter tackles UW-Stevens Point junior running back De-Juan Wright during the Homecoming football game on Saturday, Oct. 4. (Maggie Sanders/Student Voice)

The game started with the Falcons controlling the football, but it turned the ball over on downs after three incomplete passes.

On the Pointers’ first possession, the team drove the ball 44 yards down field, which included a 47- yard reception to put the Pointers in the Falcons’ red-zone.

It would eventually lead to a 25-yard field goal for kicker Jesse Velverde, and the Pointers would take an early three-point lead. Both teams wouldn’t score for the remainder of the first quarter.

Shortly into the second quarter, the Falcons would have the ball on the Pointers own three-yard line, which would lead to a touchdown reception caught by senior wide receiver Brad Beeskow.

The Falcons would dominate on the defensive side of the ball holding the Pointers from scoring as the team had possession deep on the Falcons side of the field. Senior defensive back Andy Lundgren says the comfort level with the team has helped with the defenses success.

“The difference might be is we feel more comfortable with the scheme, being a few more years into it, more comfortable with the coaches,” Lundgren said.

Lundgren and fellow senior defensive back Kyle Kittel help lead the strong Falcon defense.

The Falcons would score again after a two-yard touchdown run by freshman running back Wade Malecha, the first in his young collegiate career.

On the next Stevens Point possession the Pointers would march 79 yards down field on eight plays to score and bring the game within one possession, making the score 14-10, which is how the first half would finish.

Going into the second half, the Pointers would start with the ball. After driving the ball to the Falcons’ 32-yard line, the team would force Stevens Point to turn the ball over after failing to gain one yard on the Falcons’ 32-yard line.

The third quarter would end with a huge play by the Falcons. Backed up to it’s own one-yard line and the Pointers with the ball, senior Kyle Kittel made a momentum changing interception that prevented Stevens Point from scoring.

After the high-energy play by Kittel, the Falcons would start the fourth quarter with the ball on their own 20-yard line.

The Falcons would be halted after a big 10-yard sack for a loss by the Pointers’ junior defensive end Aaron Karlen, who had a monster game collecting five total tackles, which included three sacks for 22 yards.

On the ensuing possession, the Pointers would score on a 26-yard reception by senior wide receiver Alex Wallace to put the Pointers ahead 17-14 with eight minutes to play in the game.

That wouldn’t be enough time for the Falcons as they would turn the ball over on its next two possessions making the final score 17-14.

The Falcons offense struggled the entire game trying to get things going as they turned the ball over six total times throughout the game: three interceptions and three fumbles.

Junior quarterback Ryan Kusilek was 20-36 with 191 yards a touchdown and three interceptions, the most he has had all season. Senior wide receiver Jordan Christianson led the team with 68 receiving yards on 6 receptions, and sophomore running back Kywon Cartwright led the Falcons on the ground with 57 yards rushing.

“We had huge stops. We had two or three big fourth down stops, and some huge three and outs,” said Head Coach Matt Walker.

The help came from Lundgren, who had 15 tackles on the day, junior linebacker Zach Loos had a sack for a six-yard loss, and Kittel had two tackles and the only interception for the Falcons.

The team travels to UW-Platteville this Saturday for the Falcons’ second WIAC match-up of the season. Platteville defeated UW-Eau Claire 49-0 in its WIAC opener this past Saturday. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m.