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UWRF football: Falcons fall short again

UW-River Falls defensive back Mitch Dienger (21) makes an over-the-shoulder interception at the Missouri Baptist 37-yard line in the first quarter of the Falcons' 38-28 loss to the Spartans Saturday, Sept. 15, at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
UW-River Falls wide receiver Nicholas Studer tucks the ball in for an 11-yard catch and run deep in Missouri Baptist territory to set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Anthony Silva in the first quarter of the Falcons' 38-28 loss to the Spartans Saturday, Sept. 15, at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

For the second straight week the UW-River Falls football team dug a hole it couldn't get out of, falling to Missouri Baptist, 38-28, on a sweltering afternoon at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field Saturday, Sept. 15.

Missouri Baptist raced out to a 24-7 second quarter lead before the Falcons pulled to within three, 31-28, with a touchdown and two-point conversion on the second play of the fourth quarter.

UWRF got to the Missouri Baptist 26-yard line on its next possession but turned the ball over on downs. Missouri Baptist sealed the win with a 12-play, 85-yard drive that chewed 5 minutes, 10 seconds off the clock and ended with a touchdown with 40 seconds remaining to make the final 38-28.

A week earlier the Falcons fell behind Bethel, 20-7, in the first quarter before falling 32-27.

Missouri Baptist got a 44-yard punt return following UWRF's first possession of the game and capped it with a 29-yard field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.

The Falcons responded with a 10-play, 75-yard drive to go ahead 7-3 on a 3-yard touchdown run by Anthony Silva and Dylan Swerig's extra point.

Mitch Dienger came up with an interception at the Spartan 37-yard line late in the first quarter but the Falcons could only gain four yards before turning the ball over on downs. The Spartans would score touchdowns on three of their next four possessions to open up a 24-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

Down but not out, the Falcons responded with their own 7-play drive that saw Alex Traxler catch two passes for 38 yards and Sam Altena take a 20-yard rush to the one-yard line, before quarterback Ben Beckman snuck over on 3rd-and-1 to cut the Spartan lead to 24-14.

UWRF struck again just before halftime when Altena scored from 9-yards out but Swerig's extra point attempt hit the goal post and it was a 24-20 game at the break.

After trading punts on four straight possessions to start the second half, Beckman was knocked out of the game briefly and freshman quarterback Kole Hinrichsen's first pass attempt was picked off and returned 29 yards for a touchdown to extend the Spartans' lead to 31-20.

Altena scored his second touchdown of the day, and sixth of the season, from 16-yards out on the second play of the fourth quarter, and Beckman found Alex Herink for the two-point conversion to cut Missouri Baptist's lead to 31-28 with 14:14 remaining.

UWRF took over at its own 31-yard line following a Spartan punt with 12:04 remaining and got as far as the Spartan 26 before Beckman's 4th-and-6 pass intended for Brett Wadman fell incomplete.

Altena carried the ball 23 times for 144 yards to highlight the UWRF offense while Beckman completed 11-of-33 passes for 159 yards with an interception. Nicholas Studer caught two passes for 56 yards while Traxler had two catches for 38 yards.

Dienger led the Falcon defense with 15 tackles, nine solo, one interception and one forced fumble while also returning four punts for 38 yards. Max Praschak registered 12 total tackles while Nikko Miller and Tyler Grieves had a tackle for loss each.

UWRF, now 1-2 on the season, has a bye this Saturday before hosting 12th-ranked UW-Oshkosh (2-1) in the WIAC opener Saturday, Sept. 29, at 1 p.m.

Bob Burrows

Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.

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