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Falcons football falls against UW-Oshkosh

November 5, 2015

On a day when the Falcons faced adversity and difficulty, UWRF fell to the #5 ranked UW-Oshkosh Titans 57-12 on Saturday.

The Falcons came into the game looking for a share of the conference lead, and they looked ready for the challenge early in the first quarter. Linebacker Jay Robinson recovered a Titans fumble and returned it 44 yards to put the Falcons all the way at the 8 yard line. Three plays later quarterback Ryan Kusilek connected with Matt Woller for a 5 yard touchdown that made the game 6-0 in favor of the Falcons.

That would be the last time the Falcons would lead on a rainy afternoon in Oshkosh. The Titans responded with a 3 play, 65 yard drive that was punched in from 4 yards out by running back Dylan Hecker for a touchdown to put UW-Oshkosh up 7-6 early in the game.

On the next drive however, disaster struck. Senior quarterback Ryan Kusilek was running a standard 3 yard draw play when he was taken down awkwardly on his ankle. He managed to hobble off to the side lines, but it was clear he wasn’t going to be returning on Saturday. Kusilek ended up having a sprained ankle and is now questionable to return this year.

With only having two freshman quarterbacks to relieve Kusilek and playing one of the top teams in the country on the road, the Falcons knew they were going to be in for a difficult test.

As Head Coach Matt Walker put it, “When you play a team that strong you need some things to be able to go your way. But we didn’t do a good job of responding after Ryan went down and also didn’t handle the adversity well enough to be competitive.”

The offense couldn’t find its rhythm after Kusilek went down, with both Tim McCarthy and Ben Beckman getting time behind center. Beckman ended up getting the nod in the second half, ending his day 6-14 for 72 yards with 2 interceptions. The rushing attack didn’t fare much better, only gaining 101 yards on 39 attempts.

The defense was also not up to their usual standards on Saturday, allowing 658 yards of total offense against the high-powered Titan offense. The Titan offense managed 40 points in the first half, thanks to the strong play of quarterback Brett Kasper and running back Devon Linzenmeyer.

“We didn’t make any big plays on the football and didn’t tackle very well either. We put ourselves in position to make plays but didn’t perform as we should’ve,” Walker said.

The second half was more controlled with the Titans giving some of their backups some time to play. The Falcons did put together a nice drive at the beginning of the 4th quarter that was capped by an 8 yard touchdown run by running back Brandon McCarthy. But in the end, the Falcons just couldn’t keep up with the Titans and fell 57-12.

“Everyone was a bit confused on how to react after the game. We obviously have to move on but we can’t just accept some of the mistakes we made on Saturday. When you lose your captain and get beat up pretty bad in a game you’re looking to be competitive in, it’s difficult to respond,” Walker said.

But luckily the Falcons are used to responding big after tough losses. After starting the year 0-2 after high expectations, UWRF came up with their biggest win streak in years. And after a UW-Platteville loss that Walker called “one of his lowest moments as a coach,” the Falcons’ offense exploded against UW-Stout.

“Every time we’ve had our backs up against the wall we’ve come out and faced adversity incredibly well. We still have a lot to play for this late in the year and the intensity is as high as it’s been all year,” Walker said.

The Falcons next play host to #6 overall UW-Whitewater at Ramer Field. River Falls lost a tight one to the Warhawks last year 28-25 when Whitewater was the #1 team in the nation. That experience will benefit the Falcons by giving them more confidence going into the game.

“The game last year can only help us by showing we know we can play with any team on a given Saturday. We were able to replace the fear some teams have for them with respect and just looking at them as another talented team,” Walker said.

Kickoff for the Senior Day game is at 1 p.m.