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UWRF football takes victory over Stout, tying Falcons for second in WIAC

October 29, 2015

The Falcons put together one of their best offensive performances in years this past Saturday, beating UW-Stout 54-48 in a shootout.

With most of the praise going to the defense so far this season, the Falcons’ rushing and passing attack stepped up to a level that the UW-Stout Blue Devils just couldn’t handle.

When it was all said and done, UWRF had accounted for an incredible 548 yards on the day. It was also an extremely balanced attack on offense, with 277 yards coming through the air and 271 coming on the ground.

“We had more big and explosive plays than usual on Saturday. Our receivers made a lot of difficult plays and our running backs turned small runs into big plays. And quarterback Ryan Kusilek was definitely a dual threat on the afternoon, which brought everything together,” Coach Matt Walker said.

But before the offense could start their dominance against the Blue Devil defense on Saturday, the Falcons’ special teams stepped up huge like they have all year long. After the UWRF defense forced an early UW-Stout three and out, the Falcons blocked a punt that Junior Kyle Semann recovered in the end zone to put the Falcons up 6-0. That touchdown was Semann’s third touchdown of the season on special teams.

The Blue Devils didn’t take long to respond to the disappointing start, taking the ball 60 yards in under 3 minutes. The drive was capped by a big 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hank Kujak to wide receiver Brian Alvarez to put UW-Stout up 7-6 midway through the first quarter.

The Falcons responded as well, mixing runs from quarterback Ryan Kusilek and running back Rance Ashley to move the ball all the way down to the Stout four-yard line before the drive stalled. The Falcons then showed a bit of trickery when holder Tony Denn faked the field goal and ran it in for the touchdown to put River Falls up 13-7.

“The fake field goal set the tone right away and showed we were going to be in attack mode and play aggressively all day. It really gave us the momentum and was a catalyst for our offense,” Walker said.

UW-Stout next began to throw the ball all over the field at will. After two successful drives in the middle of the 2nd quarter, Stout suddenly found itself up 21-13 and quarterback Hank Kujak already had three passing touchdowns on the day.

River Falls just wouldn’t go away though, stringing together three big drives in the closing minutes of the first half. Highlighted by a 60-yard rushing touchdown by Rance Ashley and a 36-yard touchdown hookup between Kusilek and wide receiver Matt Woller, the Falcon’s found themselves in the driver’s seat going into the break.

The 34-21 halftime lead was quickly cut down by a UW-Stout rushing touchdown, but River Falls controlled possession the rest of the way. The Falcons held the ball twice as long as the Blue Devils on Saturday and also converted on twice as many 3rd downs.

Coach Walker said, “It’s always a key for us to not turn over the ball a lot, and coming into this game we knew the recipe to win was to control the ball. We’re a grind-the-clock kind of team”.

The Falcons continued to get big plays out of their offense, including an impressive 32-yard rushing touchdown by Michael Diggins and a difficult 42-yard receiving touchdown by wide receiver Nicholas Studer. Rance Ashley added a one-yard plunge to put the game out of reach at 54-35.

The Blue Devils added a few touchdowns in the closing minutes, but the Falcons managed the ball and came out victors by a final score of 54-48.

That brings the Falcons to 3-1 in the conference and tied for second place with UW-Whitewater. UWRF is extremely pleased with the position they’re in, going into facing #5 in the nation UW-Oshkosh.

“It’s an extremely exciting challenge to be able to go into November and control your own destiny. We’re finally in the position we all thought we could be to achieve our goals that we set in the offseason. Now we can go out and help decide who will be the leader of the conference,” Walker said.

The next step is taking down a talented 6-1 overall Oshkosh team that has been very dominant in WIAC play so far. The Falcons travel to UW-Oshkosh on Halloween to play the Titans on their home field. Kickoff for the game is 2 p.m.