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Falcons fall to Whitewater on ‘Senior Day’ despite strong season

November 12, 2015

The UW-Whitewater Warhawks were too much to overcome on senior day, dropping the Falcons 42-6 on the last home game of the season.

The sixth-ranked Warhawks started off hot right from the opening kickoff, returning the ball 54 yards to the River Falls 36-yard line to set up great field position. Seven plays later, running back Jordan Ratliffe punched in a touchdown from 3 yards out to put UW-Whitewater up 7-0 only three minutes into the game.

Falcons football fell to UW-Whitewater at home on Senior Day despite a strong season, including a three-game winning streak.
Falcons football fell to UW-Whitewater at home on Senior Day despite a strong season, including a three-game winning streak. (Tori Schneider/Student Voice)

The Falcons came out looking to stay competitive early, with freshman quarterback Ben Beckman completing a 20-yard pass to freshman receiver Nick Studer. The two would connect for 135 yards through the air in the game. In his first start, Beckman completed 20 of his 34 passes for a total of 296 yards with no turnovers.

“He showed great poise against such a strong team and didn’t make the mistakes you worry about in a first career start. His decision making and showing the moment wasn’t too big for him is a great sign for the future,” Head Coach Matt Walker said.

However, the Falcons struggled all afternoon in finishing drives and making the big plays to pressure the Warhawks. The exception to this was in the second quarter when running back Brandon McCarthy completed two huge passes out of the backfield to keep the drive alive. His 28-yard pass set up running back Rance Ashley’s seventh touchdown of the year to close the gap to 14-6 as halftime was closing in.

But with three minutes left, UWRF looked to even the score when Beckman completed a 61-yard pass to Studer to give some life back to the offense. The Falcons later came up just short on a fourth down run to kill the drive with only one minute remaining in the half.

Being the dominant offense they are, UW-Whitewater took advantage of the Falcons’ missed opportunity and marched all the way down the field in less than a minute. Quarterback Chris Nelson capped the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass to receiver Tony Gumina to put the Warhawks up 21-6 heading into halftime.

“A game like this really makes you realize how precious every snap and every inch of the game is. When you have a chance to tie it up going into halftime you have to take advantage of it against a team like Whitewater. That way they have to feel pressure going into the second half, which is something they usually don’t face,” Walker said.

The Falcons had success moving the ball in the second half as well, but failed to finish a drive that stalled at the 1-yard line. Even with 400 yards of total offense on the afternoon, going 1-4 on fourth downs killed the Falcons’ chances of keeping the game competitive.

One bright spot on the day was the electric play of freshman for the UWRF offense. The trio of Beckman, McCarthy, and Studer carried the offense on Senior Day and showed great promise for the future.

“Their play on offense has just proven how many young, talented players we have on the roster. These guys are the ones who have already taken advantage of their opportunities, but we have the same type of firepower at other positions. It’s just a testament to how great of leaders we have and how hard our staff has worked to recruit,” Walker said.

But overall it was a disappointing day for the Falcons. Luckily, the Falcons move away from playing the top 10 teams in the nation to going on the road to play UW-Stevens Point. The Pointers are 4-5 on the year and are looking to tie the Falcons for fourth in the WIAC with a win. But with fourth place still up in the air, the Falcons still have a lot to play for.

“Our mindset is strong going into this last game and we’re proud of the steps forward our program has taken this year. But these seniors deserve this last victory for all they’ve been through and to solidify the stamp they’ve left on our team. We definitely want them to walk out with a win on Saturday,” Walker said.

Kickoff for the game is at 2:00 p.m..