Falcon football wins 2022 home opener
September 21, 2022
The Falcon football team took the field at David Smith Stadium for the first time in 2022. The Falcons, ranked #17 in the American Football Coaches Association poll, their highest ranking in history, came into Saturday night's game against Northwestern. They didn’t disappoint.
The Falcons started off the game with a bang. On the first play of the game, Falcon quarterback Kaleb Blaha found Mason Van Zeeland wide open off of a flea flicker touchdown to put the Falcons up 7-0. Then, after the Falcon defense held Northwestern scoreless, running back TJ Little scored a 73-yard touchdown. The Falcons started the first quarter with two plays for two touchdowns and a 14-0 lead.
Late in the first quarter, Northwestern got the ball deep in Falcon territory, because the Falcons failed to convert on fourth down. However, the defense was able to get out of the drive, allowing zero points thanks to an end zone interception from Dylan Brown.
A poorly executed punt by Northwestern set up River Falls’ first drive of the second quarter on the opponent’s 30 and set up the third touchdown of the day for the Falcons.
This touchdown was executed through a 20-yard run by Michael Krueger and an 11-yard touchdown pass. With the Falcons up 21-0, it looked like they were going to pull away. However, after Northwestern missed a field goal, the Eagle defense picked off Blaha for a pick six, making it a 21-6 game.
On the next drive, when it looked like Blaha would get a first down run, he lost the ball and Northwestern recovered. After the Falcon defense stuffed Northwestern on fourth down, River Falls retook the ball and was able to get their fourth touchdown of the night, thanks to two third down conversions by Kruger and Van Zeeland's second touchdown reception. River Falls went into halftime with a 28-6 lead.
In the third quarter, the Falcons had Northwestern scoreless on their first drive of the second half. A big reception by Luke Kush set up the Falcons in first and goal territory, and set up a run-in from Blaha for the touchdown. River Falls had built up a 35-6 lead, and it looked like the game was over, but a sloppy third quarter kept the Eagles in it.
First, a series of penalties by the Falcon defense kept Northwestern’s second drive of the half alive, and the Eagles were able to get a touchdown to make it 35-13. The Falcons brought in their second stringers, due to it being a three-score lead, and with such little time left.
After an interception thrown by backup Tyler Schweigert, Northwestern turned it into a touchdown and was only down 35-20 to start the fourth quarter. Since Northwestern had narrowed the deficit to 35-2, Head Coach Matt Walker put the starters back in. In the fourth quarter, River Falls landed four touchdowns, and this time, Northwestern was unable to respond. The Falcons ended up winning the game 63-27.
On offense, Kaleb Blaha had 315 yards of total offense running and throwing the ball, with five touchdowns. TJ Little led the day rushing with 135 rushing yards. Mason Van Zeeland had 120 receiving yards with three touchdowns. On defense, the Falcons had six sacks, with Jake Halsey having a pair. Andrew Schumacher and Dylan Brown both had an interception, and Aaron Borgerding had seven total tackles.