Kaleb Blaha

UW-River Falls quarterback Kaleb Blaha totaled 348 yards of total offense to win the Isthmus Bowl MVP Saturday in the Falcons’ 31-24 win over Washington University-St. Louis (Mo.). Blaha finished the season with 3,488 yards of total offense, a UWRF single-season record. Star-Observer file photo

The UW-River Falls football team capped off its 2022 season by defeating Washington University-St. Louis (Mo.) 31-24 at the second annual Culver's Isthmus Bowl at Bank of Sun Prairie Stadium Saturday, the program's second consecutive Isthmus Bowl victory.

The Falcons, who wrapped up the season with a 7-4 overall record, were powered by a 24-point second quarter and solid defense, including a 50-yard interception return by Aaron Borgerding for the game-winning score. Jake Halsey also led the defense with three sacks and a blocked punt.

Quarterback Kaleb Blaha totaled 348 yards of total offense to win the Isthmus Bowl MVP, following in the footsteps of 2021 Falcon graduate Kole Hinrichsen, who broke a UW-RF single-game record with 44 completed passes, throwing for a career-high 347 yards to lead the Falcons over WashU in the inaugural Isthmus Bowl last year in Verona.

Blaha finished the season with 3,488 yards of total offense, a UWRF single-season record. Ben Beckman previously held the record, totaling 3,408 in 2019.

A busy first half featured a combined five turnovers, and after WashU took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, the Falcon offense exploded for 24 points in the second quarter alone.

Blaha got the Falcons on the board first with his 14th rushing touchdown of the season, and added a 36-yard touchdown pass to Mason Van Zeeland to give UWRF its first lead of the game. Defensive lineman Frank Hartman got the call on a red zone rush, punching in his second touchdown of the season, before a season-best 36-yard Justin Scheberl field goal gave the Falcons a 24-7 halftime lead.

WashU came out of the locker room scoring on its first drive of the second half to cut the UWRF lead to 24-14, where it stood heading into the fourth quarter.

The Bears notched a field goal to open the fourth quarter scoring to cut the Falcons lead to 24-17, but the Borgerding pick-six extended the Falcon lead to 31-17 with 8:53 left in regulation.

WashU put the pressure on the Falcons at the end of the fourth quarter, scoring with four minutes left to cut the gap to 31-24 and forced a UWRF turnover on downs on the ensuing possession. The Falcons shut down the Bears during their final chance to tie the game to seal the win.

UWRF had four interceptions and 11 tackles for loss, with one interception each from Borgerding, Isaiah Karels, Andrew Schumacher and Dylan Brown. Michael Brown led the team with eight tackles.

UWRF was the only WIAC team to win its postseason game Saturday as both UW-La Crosse and UW-Whitewater lost in the first round of the NCAA Division III playoffs. La Crosse lost to Wartburg College, 13-6, in Waverly, Iowa, while Whitewater dropped a 33-28 decision to Aurora University (Ill.) at home.

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