Falcon Football soars to homecoming victory
November 1, 2023
UW-River Falls football took home the 27-16 Homecoming victory against UW-Platteville on September 30 at Ramer Field. The game marked the fourth of the season for River Falls, and the first WIAC matchup of the fledgling season.
Falcon hopefuls packed the bleachers of Ramer Field in anticipation of the homecoming matchup between the two high-octane offenses. Entering the contest, River Falls and Platteville were ranked first and second respectively in the WIAC for their offensive capabilities, with River Falls averaging 52 points per game and Platteville averaging 45.
Following a warmer-than-average kickoff at 1 p.m. (the temperature at kickoff was 79 degrees Fahrenheit), Platteville’s offense marched out for the first drive of the contest.
Although possessing two of the most volatile offenses in the conference, neither school could gain an effective upper hand in the first quarter. A slew of early penalty flags and solid defensive sets effectively curbed both offenses during the opening quarter.
After a total of four punts, one turnover on downs, and a failed 42-yard field goal from River Falls, the quarter ended in a stalemate at 0-0.
The second quarter began with a cannon of a kick from Platteville’s Andrew Schweigert as he crushed a 44-yard field goal. This kick opened the game wide open and signified a dinner bell for the River Falls offense for the rest of the half.
River Falls quarterback Kaleb Blaha took the next drive in stride, and, along with running back Michael Krueger, picked up a quick first down in the first few plays. Following an 11-yard completion and a targeting penalty which saw Platteville's cornerback Sam Smith ejected from the game, Blaha and the Falcon offense were poised to strike.
A 25-yard pass from Blaha to Jake Hilton set up the subsequent dish from Blaha to receiver Mason Van Zeeland for the 14-yard touchdown, capping off a 7-play, 75-yard scoring drive from River Falls that only chewed two minutes off of the clock. The lightning-fast drive awarded the Falcons their first points of the contest and the lead at 7-3.
Platteville’s next drive proved unfruitful after a failed 31-yard field goal attempt, and River Falls picked up at their own 21-yard line. Blaha displayed his abilities on the drive, proving his position as first in the WIAC for passing and second in rushing. Blaha marched the Falcon offense down the gridiron.
Back-to-back passes to Luke Kush from Blaha, and a trick play which saw Blaha catch a 14-yard pass from Krueger, placed the homecoming hopefuls back into a position to score. A dot from Blaha to Jake Hilton in the back of the endzone satiated the cheering homecoming crowd as they saw their Falcons take a 14-3 lead.
The first half ended with an impressive and spirited Falcon defense, where the WIAC’s number one defense repelled and denied the visiting Pioneers a total of seven times at the goal line as time expired.
During the homecoming halftime, the 2023 UW-River Falls Hall of Fame class was announced. Some members recognized were former River Falls Volleyball Coach Patti Ford, former River Falls Track and Field Athlete Alyssa Woitas, and the 1996 UWRF Women’s Volleyball Team.
The third quarter began with another staple Falcon drive. A spectacular one-handed snag from receiver Ron Beauchamp at midfield, followed by another 23-yard laser from Blaha to Kush placed the Falcons within striking distance yet again.
A 44-yard rainbow from Blaha found the golden hands of Van Zeeland for his second score of the game, extending the Falcon lead to 14.
Following the score, the Pioneers shifted to a more aggressive style of offense and began pecking away at the Falcon lead. Platteville’s quarterback Michael Priami had the ball in his hands the entire next drive, tossing a slew of short screen passes that grinded the River Fall’s defense deep into their own territory.
During this point in the game injury timeouts were rife as a few River Falls players came down with cramps as the sweltering temperature and all-black uniforms came into the forefront of play. A well-placed throw along the sideline from Priami to Brandt Stare brought the visitors within two scores at 21-10. The next Falcon drive was stunted by the Pioneer defense as Linebacker Colton Ingram awarded Blaha his second interception of the season.
Priami settled back into a rhythm, completing a four-minute 71-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown pass. Following a missed extra point, the Pioneers now found themselves directly back in the ballgame with a score of 21-16 with the fourth quarter approaching.
After a few unsuccessful drives in the early stages of the fourth, River Falls was able to piece together a comprehensive attack, utilizing Blaha’s shifty running ability and arm. A 14-yard pass sealed the finality of the drive, with receiver Jake Hilton diving towards the far pile on for the score. The second failed extra point of the contest left the score standing at 27-16, the Falcons with 8:30 left on the game clock.
Platteville received the next kickoff and drove in rhythm, picking up four first downs in the matter of a couple of minutes and threatening the defending Falcons yet again. That threat ended with a Falcon interception by defensive back Michael Brown at the River Falls 30-yard line. The rest of the contest relied on a few key runs from Blaha and company to secure three first downs before kneeling out the clock, ending the homecoming contest with a Falcon victory of 27-16.
Blaha threw for 377 yards and four touchdowns in the contest, and he also led the Falcon ground game with 32 attempts and 88 yards. Ron Beauchamp led the receiving corps with 122 yards, with Van Zeeland and Hilton both catching two touchdowns each in the contest. linebacker Cade Schmidt led the Falcon defense with nine tackles on the day.
River Fall’s homecoming win garnered them their first WIAC win of the season and fourth overall of the new year, keeping them in contention with UW-Whitewater who also has a perfect record of 4-0 on the season. This streak would continue until the Falcons fell to the UW-Whitewater Warhawks 21-14 on October 14.