FINAL: 'Cats fall to Rice Lake, 42-28
River Falls came within striking distance of a tie-game repeatedly Friday but couldn't overcome the offensive strength of a Rice Lake Warrior squad that -- despite losing its quarterback with a shoulder injury before the half -- bulldozed six touchdowns to the Wildcats four.
It took Rice Lake just eight plays in 2:10 from River Falls' kick-off to score on a pass from senior quarterback Kody Novinska to Tyler Putzke.
River Falls quickly answered with a quick march on Ryan Kusilek passes and Sam Lenzen rushes to tie the game just four minutes into the quarter.
Just three plays later, Novitska scrambled 53 yards to cross the goal line. A missed point-after put the score at 13-7.
Rice Lake scored again in the second quarter, only to be answered by a Wildcat TD and point-after, tallying 19-14 nearly six minutes before the half.
Momentum appeared to shift after the 'Cat defense nearly stripped Novinska of the football as he cocked his right arm to pass, but managed to toss an incomplete spiral. But the senior quarterback immediately began favoring the shoulder. The Warriors advanced to the RF 25-yardline on rushing but had to settle for a field goal, bringing the score to 22-14 at the half.
The Warriors returned to the field, led by backup QB 198-pound junior Seth Markgren, who proved to be a better half-back, carrying the ball himself for two more Warrior TD's in the second half.
The 'Cats didn't quit. Ryan Kusilek connected repeatedly, finding Brad Freeborn for about 25 yards and Eric Wunrow twice to set up a bullet to Aaron Rodewald and successful point-after, tallying 28-21 just into the fourth quarter.
Although a strong Warrior offense dominated the last period, River Falls deflated their confidence a bit when senior Aaron Anderson returned a Warrior kick-off 93 yards to bring the 'Cats total to 28.
Look for more details in the Sept. 8th print edition of the River Falls Journal.