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Falcons throw scare into Titans

The UW-River Falls football team gave third-ranked UW-Oshkosh all it could handle Saturday, Oct. 28, in Oshkosh, but the Titans rallied for a touchdown with 3:09 remaining to pull out a 31-28 victory.

UWRF took a 28-24 lead on Michael Diggins' third rushing touchdown of the game with 6:53 to play, but Oshkosh put together a 10-play, 61-yard drive ending with a 1-yard touchdown run by Mitch Gerhartz, his second of the game, to take a three-point lead.

The Falcons had a first-and-10 at the Oshkosh 35-yard line on its final possession but sophomore quarterback Ben Beckman gained three yards on a scramble and tossed three incompletions to end UWRF's upset bid. Facing a fourth-and-17 from the Titan 42-yard line following a holding penalty, Beckman was flushed out of the pocket, and his short pass fell untouched to the turf near the line of scrimmage with 1:09 remaining.

Beckman completed 24-of-40 passes for 322 yards and a touchdown in his first career start.

UWRF (3-5, 1-4 WIAC) owned advantages over the Titans in total yards (469-317), rushing yards (147-111), passing yards (322-206), first downs (24-17) and time of possession (38:36 to 21:24). The Falcons converted 9 of 16 first downs while limiting UW-Oshkosh to 4-for-10 on third downs. Neither team committed a turnover in the game's 134 offensive plays.

Oshkosh (7-0, 5-0 WIAC), ranked third in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com, secured its 12th straight win over UWRF and its 12th consecutive home victory overall.

The Titans, who advanced to last season's Division III championship game, remain the lone unbeaten team in the WIAC, maintaining their one-game lead over defending league champion UW-Whitewater with two contests left.

The Falcons struck first with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Beckman to Trenton Monson late in the first quarter but Oshkosh came right back with a 98-yard kickoff return 16 seconds later to tie the score.

Diggins scored his first touchdown of the game from three yards out on the Falcon's first possession of the second quarter but Oshkosh got two second quarter touchdowns and a field goal to open up a 24-14 halftime lead.

UWRF freshman Janari Glover returned the second half kick to near midfield and the Falcons went 53 yards in seven plays to cut Oshkosh's lead to 24-21 on a one-yard touchdown run by Diggins.

Diggins' third touchdown run of the game with 6:53 remaining capped an eight-play, 70-yard drive and put UWRF on top 28-24. Beckman completed 4-of-5 passes on the drive, including a 32-yard completion to Nicholas Studer and a 12-yarder to Monson before Diggins carried twice from the ten for the go-ahead score.

Diggins carried the ball 26 times for 106 yards and three touchdowns while Studer caught a season-high 12 passes for 155 yards. Monson had six receptions for 111 yards and a score.

Joey Leonard led the UWRF defense with eight tackles and Praschak had seven tackles and a sack while Rakeem Felder had four tackles and a sack.

The Falcons will remain on the road this weekend at UW-Stevens Point (4-4, 1-4) before returning home to host UW-La Crosse in the season finale Saturday. Nov. 11, at 1 p.m. at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field.

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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