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Falcons triumph over Blue Devils in homecoming thriller

October 14, 2018

UW-River Falls football snapped a four-game losing streak on Saturday as they defeated the UW-Stout Blue Devils 21-19 during the school’s homecoming game on Ramer Field at Smith Stadium.

After losing 27-52 last week on the road to UW-Platteville, Falcon’s Head Coach Matt Walker spent all week preparing his team for this highly-anticipated homecoming matchup.

“We talk with our guys about using the energy the right way to make us more focused,” Walker said. “We are trying to turn this thing around.”

Despite being a chilly, windy October day, the game had a huge crowd with more than 3,200 people in attendance. The first quarter would start off slow before Stout’s senior kicker Drew Pearson would boot in a 51-yard field goal to give the Blue Devil’s a 3-0 lead at 6:49.

Four minutes later the Falcons would score a 63-yard touchdown as junior quarterback Ben Beckman scrambled out to the right under pressure and found senior wide receiver Trenton Monson for the score. Coach Walker spoke glowingly of the Big Lake, Minnesota-native, calling him “as good of a receiver as there is in this league from a skill standpoint”.

The Blue Devils would regain the lead at 11:10 in the second quarter as freshman quarterback Sean Borgerding would find Levy Hamer in the end zone for a four-yard touchdown strike.

With three minutes remaining before half-time, sophomore running back Tyler Blum would score on a 13-yard touchdown run, bouncing off a defender to give UWRF a 14-10 lead after a successful extra point attempt by Jacob Lytle. This score would cap off a seven-play, 71-yard drive.

Late in the third quarter, Pearson would kick a 31-yard field goal to bring Stout to within one point. The Falcons would quickly retaliate with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Beckman to junior receiver Brett Wadman in the back corner of the end zone as the Annandale, Minnesota-native dragged his feet inbounds with only inches to spare.

Under a minute to go in the third quarter, UW-Stout would pass for a touchdown, but fail to score on a two-point conversion making the score 21-19 in UW-River Falls favor.

After a couple of punts in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils would turn over the ball on downs with 1:26 to go as the Falcons defense shut down Borgerding and his offense. UW-Stout would still have three timeouts to stop the clock as UWRF’s offense looked to close out the game with a first down. On a critical third down with the game on the line, Beckman rolled out to his left and scrambled downfield for a gain of 28 as he sealed the victory for the Falcons with a first down.

UWRF advances to 2-4 on the season as they pick up their first WIAC victory of 2018. “We can win the rest of our games, “Coach Walker said. “We don’t have an effort problem”. UW-Stout falls to 3-3 as they lose their second consecutive game.

Beckman would finish the game 16-for-27 with 224 yards and two touchdowns. Coach Walker would praise his starting quarterback saying, “[He] makes the whole thing go, he has as much arm talent as anybody in the league, maybe in the country in Division III football. There are not too many guys who can spin it like he can”.

Freshman running back Sam Altena ran for 97 yards on 22 carries and defensive back Antoin Kealoha, though diminutive in stature at 5’7, would come up big and tally 10 tackles, an interception, and half a sack.

This homecoming game would mark the first one without legendary Head Coach Mike Farley, who died on August 28th of this year at age 84 in Mesa, Arizona. “This is a rich tradition and a rich history that goes way back. Nobody is as important to that legacy or history as he is,” Coach Walker said.

Despite compiling 117 wins and leading the Falcons to eight WIAC team championships, Coach Walker emphasized his off the field accomplishments as Farley’s greatest achievement. “It’s the effect he has had on the number of lives,” Walker said. “I get to hear the stories all the time.”

The Falcons travel to Whitewater, Wisconsin next Saturday as they look to defeat the six-time national champion Warhawks, who currently sit atop the WIAC standings. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.