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Falcons football reaches longest win streak in 15 years

October 15, 2015

The Falcons’ winning streak stretched to three games this past Saturday, with the visiting Falcons taking down UW-Eau Claire 10-7 on the Blugolds’ homecoming. That win means that the Falcons now have their longest winning streak in the past 15 years.

That streak, however, wouldn’t be possible without the Falcons’ superb defense. They allowed only 58 rushing yards on Saturday, bringing their three-game total to allowing an outstanding -46 yards. With such a strong core group up front, teams are being forced to solely throw the ball.

“We knew coming into the season that our front seven was going to be a strength of our team that we could rely on, but I couldn’t be prouder of how they’ve stepped up so far this year. Their consistency has been incredible and it’s allowed us to be the type of team we want to be,” Coach Matt Walker said.

The defense was on full display Saturday, when Eau Claire struggled to move the ball past midfield for most of the first half. After a few missed opportunities on 4th down and solid field position by the Falcons, the offense came up big late in the 1st quarter. A huge 21-yard hookup on 4th down from quarterback Ryan Kusilek to wide receiver Matt Woller set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Rance Ashley to put the Falcons up 7-0.

Eau Claire, however, wasn’t going to lay down so early on their homecoming at Carson Park. After the Eau Claire defense stepped up big to pin the Falcons inside their own one-yard line, the Blugolds’ offense managed to take over at the River Falls 27-yard line. Eau Claire quarterback JT Denhartog made quick work of the great field position, throwing a short pass to Lucas Emmerich that ended up becoming a 26-yard passing touchdown that evened the score up at 7-7.

River Falls responded with an impressive drive of their own, converting on some deep passes to get all the way down to the three-yard line before the drive stalled. Ryan Kusilek added a 20-yard field goal to put the Falcons up for good 10-7 before the break.

The second half was owned by the defenses, with neither offense putting together enough big plays to score. Eau Claire managed to drive into Falcon territory multiple times in the 4th quarter, but the Falcon defensive backs responded strongly like they did all day. They ended with 3 interceptions on the day, with Kyle Narges grabbing 2 picks that he returned for a total of 27 yards.

Walker said, “I was especially impressed with how our defensive backs showed up today. We’ve had some tough days on pass defense earlier in the year but they stepped up big to shut down the offense when they’re being forced to throw every down because of our front seven.”

The Falcons were able to control the time of possession and hold to their narrow lead all afternoon, and even though most probably think it’s not the most exciting way to win football games, Coach Walker knows it’s what his team needs to do to get the job done.

“We’ve been able to go ultra-conservative on offense and control the tempo because of how strong our defense has been. We know the recipe we need to win football games right now, even though it’s probably been frustrating to watch at times.”

But the results definitely speak for themselves. The biggest win streak in 15 years is something you just can’t ignore, and most people outside the program probably think the atmosphere around the team must be crazy with so much success recently. But for players and coaches, it’s just business as usual.

“There’s obviously a lot of energy around the program from being tied for first place in the league right now. But I’ve been delighted with how grounded our team has stayed because this was our expectation coming into the season. We knew we could compete and we’ve already done a great job on focusing on the next one-week war,” Walker said.

That next game comes against the number 13-ranked team in the country: the UW-Platteville Pioneers. The Pioneers come in 4-1 with just posting a 30-27 win over UW-Stevens Point last week. The Falcons will have to be sharp on both sides of the ball on Saturday, with Coach Walker saying the Pioneers have a “high-powered offense that throws the ball around a lot and a complex defensive scheme.” Walker also said it will be key to limit “big plays” throughout the game.

Kickoff for the game is at 1 PM this Saturday at Ramer Field.