The old adage "bend, but don't break" proved true for the UW-Stout defense as the Blue Devils shut down every UW-River Falls drive in the fourth quarter as Stout went on to a 20-9 non-conference win at Ramer Field Saturday.
The Blue Devils (2-1) stopped winless River Falls (0-3) four times in the fourth quarter on fourth down and pounced on a fumble in a fifth opportunity. Stout stopped the Falcons on the Stout 16 early in the fourth quarter. On the Falcons next drive, Stout forced a fumble on the River Falls 40. On the Falcons next two possessions, Stout stopped them on the Stout 27 and the Stout 4. On the Falcons' fifth chance in the quarter, Stout forced a four-and-out to preserve the win.
As tough as the Stout defense was on fourth down, they were equally tough on third down, stopping the Falcons two-of-13 times throughout the entire evening.
Stout took an early lead in the game, moving 53 yards in 15 plays to set up Ricky Marteney's (Jr, Greenfield) 33 yard field at 3:32 in the first quarter.
The Falcons took their only lead of the game early in the second quarter. After recovering a Stout fumble on the Stout 43, the Falcons needed only three plays - highlighted by John Wahlstrom's 33-yard reception - to score on John Schimens 13-yard rumble.
The Blue Devils responded on their next drive after Trevor Morning (Jr, Bloomer) returned the ensuing kickoff 26 yards to the Stout 44. Quarterback Michael Blizel (Sr, Sturgeon Bay) drove Stout 56 yards in 11 plays, capping the drive with a 1-yard toss to Austin Schwartz (Sr, Waconia, Minn).
Marteney added a 25 yard field goal midway through the third quarter to stretch the lead to 13-7.
Stout got their final score of the game after Ryan Ericksen (Sr, Stanley) recovered a fumble on the River Falls 40.
Blizel needed only two plays to capitalize. After Paul Bernier (Sr, Lakeville, Minn) ran five yards, Blizel found a wide-open Morning who scored for a 35-yard play.
The Falcons added two points when they blocked a punt through the end zone with four minutes left.
Stout tallied 324 yards of total offense, 155 rushing, 169 passing. Eric Brown (Sr, St. Paul, Minn) proved to be the workhorse for the Blue Devils, hauling the football 32 times for 127 yards. Blizel completed 17-of-29 passes for 169 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Morning hauled in four passes for 61 yards and Zak Snell (So, Castaic, Calif) had four catches fo 44 yards.
The Falcons were held to 221 total yards, 28 yards rushing, 193 passing. Freshman quarterback Ryan Kusilek completed 22-of-42 passes for 193 yards. Nathan Brandt had eight receptions for 79 yards and Wahlstrom had four catches for 58 yards.
Defensively, Stout's Collin Laursen (So, Mondovi) had eight tackles, six solo, with two tackles for loss and a sack. Ericksen had four tackles with a sack, a fumble recovery and a pass break-up. For the Falcons, Jacob Mandoza had 11 tackles, eight solo.
Stout will be at UW-Eau Claire, Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m.