The Wildcat football team dominated the battles in the trenches and scored points in all four quarters on its way to posting a 24-8 victory over New Richmond in the season opener for both teams Friday night in New Richmond.
The Cats will look to go 2-0 when they visit Ellsworth this Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff. The Panthers are coming off a 21-6 loss to St. Croix Central last week.
The Cats put up 291 yards of total offense in their opener at New Richmond while holding the Tigers to 189. River Falls also forced three fumbles, recovering one, while doing most of its damage on offense between the tackles.
"For a first game, we were pleased with our line play, both on offense and defense," head coach John Bennett said. "Overall, we played a pretty solid game fundamentally. Being such a young team, it is vital we play simple, disciplined football and minimize penalties and turnovers."
The Cats committed four penalties for 20 yards compared to seven for 50 yards for the Tigers. They also turned the ball over just once, a second quarter interception thrown by sophomore quarterback Ryan Kusilek.
Kusilek completed 1-of-4 passes for eight yards and was perfect on three extra point kicks and his only field goal attempt. His 27-yard field goal to open the scoring came after Ben Wunrow returned a Tiger punt 14 yards to the New Richmond nine.
Wunrow capped a 10-play, 64-yard drive in the second quarter with the first of his two 1-yard touchdown runs to give the Cats a 10-0 lead. Dylan Dock ran for 21 yards to the Tiger five before Wunrow carried twice to complete the drive.
The Tigers answered on their ensuing possession with an 11-yard touchdown run by Justice Harvieux to make the score 10-8 at halftime.
The Cats extended their lead to 17-8 on their first possession of the second half with a 17-yard touchdown run by Dock that capped an 8-play, 80-yard drive. Wunrow ran 14 yards for a first down and Dock ripped off a 22-yard gain before finishing the drive from 17 yards out.
River Falls' final touchdown came after defensive lineman James Kozak recovered a Tiger fumble at the New Richmond 45. Six plays later Wunrow bulled over for his second 1-yard scoring run of the night with 3:17 remaining.
Wunrow finished with 107 yards rushing on 15 carries while Dock carried the ball seven times for 60 yards. Rickey Troester had the Cats' only pass reception of the night, an 8-yarder from Kusilek in the first half.
Wunrow also finished with 10 total tackles to lead the Wildcat defense. Austin Johnson, Talal Adam and Lee Getschel each forced a fumble while Kozak had the Cats' only recovery.
Coach Bennett said he was pleased with the Cats execution on special teams as well.
"In particular the punt team and extra point and field goal team," he said.
River Falls 3 7 7 7--24
New Rich. 0 8 0 0--8
RF--Ryan Kusilek 27-yard field goal, 1:12.
RF--Be Wunrow 1-yard run (Kusilek kick), 7:30
NR--Justice Harvieux 11-yard run (Harvieux run), :30.
RF--Dylan Dock 17-yard run (Kusilek kick), 5:20.
Ben Wunrow 1-yard run (Kusilek kick), 3:17.
1st downs 19 12
Rushing 283 143
Passing 1-5-1-8 4-13-0-46
Total Offense 291 189
Punts 4/113 5/140
Fumbles 0 1
Penalties 4-20 7-50
RUSHING: Ben Wunrow 15-107; Dylan Dock 7-60; Austin Johnson 1-54; Oscar White 10-54; Nick Zimmerman 2-14; Zach Pavlichek 1-(-2); Mark Bennett 2-(-6).
PASSING: Ryan Kusilek 1-4-1-8-0; Mark Bennett 0-1-0-0-0.
RECEIVING: Ricky Troester 1-8.
PUNT RETURNS: Ben Wunrow 1-14; Mark Bennett 1-5.
KICKOFF RETURNS: Dylan Dock 1-8.
TACKLES (SOLO-ASSIST): Ben Wunrow 10-0; Tony Mishek 4-1; James Kozak 3-0; Austin Johnson 2-1; Spencer Meyers 2-1; Zach Pavlichek 2-1; Mark Bennett 1-2; Nick Zimmerman 2-0; Dylan Dock 2-0; Tim Weller 2-0; Talal Adam 1-0; Lee Getschel 1-0; Kelly Larson 1-0; Grant Lillis 1-0; Calvin Wing 1-0.
FORCED FMBLE: Austin Johnson, Talal Adam, Lee Getschel.
FUMBLE RECOVERY: James Kozak.
TIPPED PASS: Nick Zimmerman, Dylan Dock, Oscar White.