Sophomore running back Taylor Edwards ran for 246 yards and two touchdowns and UW-River Falls' picked off five passes and returned two for touchdowns as the Falcon football team made for a happy homecoming with a 40-27 victory over Alma College (Mich.) Saturday at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field.
Edwards, in his first action since injuring an ankle in the first half of the season-opener against St. John's Sept. 5, scored on runs of three and five yards in the first half and had three runs of over 40 yards in the game. He finished with 30 carries for an average of 8.2 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, defensive back Ben Arata returned an interception 99 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and defensive lineman Steve Marich rumbled 81 yards for a touchdown after a fourth quarter pick. Matt Gajewski, Matt Guertin and Ross Potter also had interceptions in the victory.
Arata gave Falcon fans plenty to cheer about early by blocking an Alma field goal attempt on the opening drive of the game. Alma would take a 7-0 lead on its next possession but the Falcons answered right back with a three-yard touchdown run by Edwards.
After Alma took a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, Arata picked off Scots quarterback MacKenzie McGrady at the one yard line and brought it back 99 yards untouched to tie the score.
The Falcons took the lead for good, 21-14, on Edwards' second touchdown of the game later in the quarter, and extended it to 27-14 on a pair of Chad Blair field goals from 24 and 28 yards in the third quarter. Blair's second kick was set up by a Guertin interception at the Alma 25 yard-line.
After Alma cut the gap to 27-21 with a touchdown to start the fourth quarter, the Falcons came back with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Luessenheide to Wade Schlichting to make it a 34-21 game. Marich extended the lead to 40-21 with his 81-yard interception return on the Scots' ensuing possession.
McGrady, who attempted 84 passes in the game and completed 52, hit Brad Gray for a 30-yard touchdown pass with under a minute remaining to make the final 40-27.
Alma piled up 630 yard of total offense compared to 389 for UW-RF. Most of the Scots' production came from the arm of McGrady, who threw for 567 yards and four touchdowns in Alma's no-huddle offense. But the Falcons capitalized on his five interceptions and finished the game with more interception return yards (180), than the Scots had rushing (63).
Luessenheide completed 9-of-19 passes for 122 yards and one interception for UW-RF. Michael Woodward was on the receiving end of three Luessenheide passes for 13 yards.
Gajewski and Guertin finished with 13 tackles each to lead the Falcons' defense while Marich, Ryan Bartsch and Mike Larson each had a sack.
The Falcons, now 2-1 overall, will open WIAC play Saturday in Menomonie against the UW-Stout Blue Devils (3-0). Kick-off is 1 p.m.