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UWRF football: Falcons roll past Blugolds

UW-River Falls senior wide receiver Alex Herink of Hudson (11) makes an acrobatic catch in the end zone to give UWRF a 14-7 lead over UW-Eau Claire in the second quarter of their WIAC matchup at David Smith Stadium Saturday, Oct. 27. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
UW-RIver Falls freshman running back Sam Altena of New Richmond (26) breaks loose for a 29-yard gain in the Falcons' 42-24 victory over UW-Eau Claire Saturday, Oct. 27, at David Smith Stadium. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

UW-River Falls exploded for 28 second-quarter points, including senior wide receiver Alex Herink's seventh and eighth touchdown catches of the season, on its way to a 42-24 victory over UW-Eau Claire Saturday, Oct. 27, at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field.

The victory is the Falcons second in three games and moved their record to 3-5 overall, 2-3 in WIAC play. All three UWRF wins have come at home.

Herink had two touchdown catches in the win, a 22-yard strike from quarterback Ben Beckman to start the scoring, and a 24-yard grab from Beckman later in the quarter. The senior from Hudson, playing his first season of college football after an All-American basketball career, now has eight touchdown catches on the season, one away from tying the school record shared by Craig Boen (1995) and Michael Zweifel (2007).

Herink's first touchdown of the game came on the first play of the second quarter to give UWRF a 7-0 lead.

The Blugolds tied the score on their ensuing possession but after Tyle Blum returned Eau Claire's kickoff to midfield, the Falcons needed just four plays for Beckman to find Herink again in the end zone from 24-yards out to take a 14-7 lead.

UWEC responded again by tying the score before Beckman found Nicholas Studer for a 77-yard bomb to give UWRF the lead for good, 21-14. Athen Ashton returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown with 43 seconds remaining in the quarter to put the Falcons up 28-14 at the break.

The Blugolds pulled closer with a field goal in the third quarter, but Anthony Silva scored on a 3-yard run midway through the fourth and Sam Altena of New Richmond iced the win with an 11-yard touchdown with 3:10 remaining.

Beckman completed 17-of-23 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns. His 77-yard touchdown pass to Studer was the longest of his career.

Studer finished with three catches for 120 yards and Trenton Monson had seven catches for 119 yards while Herink caught three balls for 76 yards. Altena led UWRF on the ground with an even 100 yards on 15 carries while Silva carried the ball 10 times for 52 yards.

Junior linebacker Max Praschak of Somerset led the defense with 10 solo tackles to bring his WIAC-leading total to 43 on the season. Mitch Dienger and Joey Leonard had six solo tackles each while Leonard, Ashton, and Brandon McCarthy had a sack apiece.

UWRF will hit the road to visit UW-La Crosse (5-3, 3-2) this Saturday, Nov. 3, before returning home for the season finale and Senior Day Saturday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. against UW-Stevens Point (3-5 2-3).

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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