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Homecoming heartache: Platteville holds off Falcon comeback

UW-River Falls 6-5, 250-pound quarterback Travon Hearns (11) lowers his shoulder before barrelling into the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown run to tie the score, 14-14, late in the third quarter of the Falcons' 24-14 loss to UW-Platteville Saturday, Oct. 7, at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 1 / 2
UW-River Falls sophomore tight end Patrick O'Leary (86) hauls in a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Travon Hearns to cut UW-Platteville's lead to 14-7 early in the third quarter of UWRF's Homecoming game against the eighth-ranked Pioneers Saturday, Oct. 7, at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field. The Falcons would tie the game later in the quarter on a 5-yard touchdown run by Hearns but Platteville held on for a 24-14 win. Bob Burrows / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 2

The UW-River Falls football team came back from two touchdowns down to tie UW-Platteville on Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 7, but the eighth-ranked Pioneers scored 10 points in the final eight minutes to remain undefeated with a 24-14 victory over the Falcons in front of 2,175 fans at David Smith Stadium at Ramer Field.

Travon Hearns tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to tight end Patrick O'Leary on UWRF's first drive of the second half and Hearns scored on a 5-yard run later in the third quarter to tie the score, 14-14.

Platteville got a 35-yard field goal from Michael Pratl with 8 minutes remaining, and after forcing UWRF's fifth three-and-out of the game, the Pioneers put together a 9-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jack Eddy to Wyatt Thompson to make it a 24-14 game with 2 minutes, 33 seconds remaining.

Hearns was picked off at his own 39-yard line on the next play from scrimmage to seal the win for the Pioneers.

The Falcons were victimized by poor field position throughout the game, especially in the first half. Platteville punter Connor Foley placed five of his seven punts inside the 20-yard line with four of them downed inside the Falcon five.

Platteville, meanwhile, started six of its seven first half drives in Falcon territory but managed to score just one touchdown—a Sean Studer 5-yard run that capped a 5-play, 48-yard drive midway through the second quarter.

Platteville extended its lead to 14-0 on a 64-yard run by Studer on its first drive of the second half before River Falls got a 43-yard kickoff return from Donjae Lyons into Platteville territory. A 12-yard completion to Trenton Monson, an 18-yard run by O'Leary and Hearns' 5-yard touchdown pass to O'Leary cut the gap in half, 14-7.

UWRF put together its best drive of the game later in the quarter, marching 55 yards in 10 plays to tie the score on Hearns' 5-yard run up the middle. That's as close as the Falcons could get, however, as Platteville milked nearly five minutes off the clock before pinning UWRF at its own 3-yard line early in the fourth quarter. The Falcons made it as far as their own 21 before punting and Platteville responded with the go-ahead field goal.

UWRF had the advantage in time of possession, 32:26 to 27:34, but Platteville outgained the Falcons 397 to 247 in total yards. Platteville ran for 135 yards against UWRF's conference leading rushing defense with 64 of those coming on Studer's third quarter touchdown run.

Michael Diggins led the Falcons with 97 yards in 25 carries while Hearns completed 12-of-24 passes for 110 yards. Monson was UWRF's leading receiver with five catches for 69 yards.

Alex Wood and Max Praschak led the Falcon defense with nine tackles each with Wood also coming up with an interception.

UWRF, now 3-2 overall, 1-1 in the WIAC, will visit UW-Stout (2-2, 0-2) this Saturday at 2 p.m. a Don and Nona Williams Stadium in Menomonie. The Falcons will return home to host UW-Whitewater Saturday, Oct. 21, at noon.

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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