UW-River Falls’ 48-27 victory over Washington University in the inaugural Culvers Isthmus Bowl Saturday afternoon at Verona Area High School gave the Falcons their highest single-season win total in a quarter century.
The Falcons scored four touchdowns in the second half to erase a 21-10 halftime deficit to finish the season with a record of 9-2, tying the program record for wins in a season. The nine wins matches the UWRF win totals from 1979, 1995, and 1996.
The Falcons also tied an NCAA Division III single-game record with 44 first downs, matching the University of Massachusetts-Maritime total from 2013.
Senior quarterback Kole Hinrichsen broke a UWRF single-game record with 44 completed passes while throwing for a career-high 347 yards. His pass total broke Ben Beckman's total of 40 against UW-La Crosse in 2019.
Hinrichsen threw three passing touchdowns and rushed for two scores, logging 99 rushing yards. Jager Reismann collected a career-high 16 receptions for 125 yards and a touchdown while Luke Fugate rushed for 125 yards on 25 attempts.
After WashU opened the game's scoring, Michael Brown picked off his second pass in as many games, leading to a Hinrichsen 11-yard touchdown pass to Charlie Huschka. But the Falcons' two-point conversion failed and UWRF trailed 7-6 with 3:31 left in the first quarter.
With seconds left in the first period, Hinrichsen completed a 13-yard yard pass to Reissmann and Cade Henry converted the point after to give UWRF a 13-7 lead heading into the second quarter.
After forcing a Falcon fumble, WashU scored with 11:30 remaining in the half and regained the lead, 14-13. UWRF answered again with a Fugate 17-yard rushing score to cap a 14-play, 71-yard drive and give the Falcons a 20-14 lead with 1:56 left in the half. But with 40 seconds remaining in the first half, the Bears scored and took a 21-20 lead into halftime.
The Falcons scored twice in the third quarter without a WashU answer to take a 33-21 lead. The Falcons opened the second half scoring with a Hinrichsen rushing touchdown from 19 yards out and came up short on the two-point conversion. Later in the quarter, Hinrichsen and Huschka once again connected for a 29-yard touchdown to give the Falcons a 33-21 lead near the end of the third quarter.
UWRF extended its lead to 48-21 with Ben Beise and Hinrichsen rushing scores. A Hinrichsen to Beise two-point conversion put the Falcons up by 27 points with 7:32 left in regulation, enough cushion to cruise to victory.
Defensively, the Falcons tallied five sacks and limited WashU to just 14 rushing yards. Jake Halsey led the way with three tackles for loss, including two sacks.
Saturday’s Isthmus Bowl marked the first postseason college bowl game in Wisconsin state history and the first bowl game in UW-River Falls football program history.
The game featured the top two teams from the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) and the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin (CCIW) that did not make the NCAA Playoffs. The Falcons and Bears each finished third in their respective league's standings.