The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football team earned a 63-49 victory at UW-River Falls Saturday afternoon at Smith Stadium. The Eagles improve to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) while the Falcons drop to 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the conference.
UWL quarterback Evan Lewandowski tied an National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III single-game record with nine passing touchdowns in Saturday's win. He finished 28-of-44 for 591 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception. The nine touchdown passes ties the record of Chaiten Tomlin of Mt. St. Joseph versus Anderson (October 21, 2017) and Joe Zarlinga of Ohio Northern versus Capital (November 14, 1998). Lewandowski also tied the national record for touchdown passes in a quarter with five in the second period on Saturday. David Sullivan of Williams threw five touchdowns (also in the 2nd quarter) against Hamilton (October 30, 1993).
Lewandowski's nine passing touchdowns and 591 yards are both school and WIAC single-game records. He breaks the school record of six touchdown passes by Mike Durnin versus UW-Whitewater (November 3, 1979) and Joe Rihn against UW-Superior (October 29, 1998). Lewandowski's 591 yards breaks the record of 538 by Tarek Yaeggi versus UW-Platteville (November 12, 2016).
UW-Stevens Point's Kirk Baumgartner held the previous WIAC record of eight touchdown passes against UW-Superior (November 4, 1989) while Yaeggi held the record for passing yards in a game.
After a scoreless first quarter Saturday, the teams combined for 56 points in the second period. Lewandowski connected with Cole Spieker on a five-yard touchdown pass with 14:14 left in the second quarter as the Eagles went 13 plays and 99 yards in 5:56. UW-River Falls came back to tie the game at 7-7 on Tyler Blum's six-yard run with 12:12 remaining in the period. The Falcons went 59 yards in five plays and 1:56. Lewandowski hit Jake Simuncak on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 10:25 left after UWL went 75 yards in five plays and 1:53.
UWL blocked a UW-River Falls punt on its next drive and the Eagles took a 21-7 lead with 9:30 left in the second quarter on Lewandowski's eight-yard touchdown pass to Joey Stutzman. UWL went 17 yards in two plays and :30.
UW-River Falls quickly responded with a touchdown to cut the deficit to 21-14 as Alex Traxler caught a 39-yard touchdown pass from Ben Beckman with 8:32 remaining. Four plays later, Lewandowski threw his fourth touchdown of the quarter, this one from nine-yards out with 7:25 left to Cole Spieker to make it 28-14. UW-River Falls used a 10-play drive to go 65 yards in 4:16 with Luke Fugate scoring on a two-yard run with 3:17 remaining to cut the lead to 28-21.
Lewandowski connected with Cameron Sorenson on a 70-yard touchdown pass on UWL's next possession with 1:41 left and 35-21 lead. The Eagles went 60 yards in three plays and 1:36. UW-River Falls drove to the UWL nine-yard line, but failed to score as Beckman's pass was incomplete.
Fugate fumbled on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter with Joey Bolda recovering at the Falcons' 11-yard line. Two plays later, Lewandowski hit Sorenson on a five-yard touchdown pass for a 42-21 lead. UW-River Falls cut the lead to 42-28 with 8:21 remaining in the third quarter on Beckman's 31-yard touchdown pass to Alex Herink. Simuncak returned the ensuing kickoff 30-yards to the UWL 48-yard line and four plays later, Spieker caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Lewandowski to make it 49-28 with 6:46 remaining.
The Eagles forced a Falcons' punt on the next drive of the game and on the next play from scrimmage, Lewandowski hit Sorenson with an 81-yard touchdown pass and 56-28 advantage with 5:16 left. Beckman's eight-yard touchdown pass to Herink with 12:15 remaining in the fourth quarter cut the lead to 56-35. Lewandowski was intercepted by Cade Henry at the Falcons' one-yard line on the Eagles' next possession and returned it to UWL's 46-yard line. Four plays later, Beckman scored on a 13-yard run to cut the deficit to 56-42 with 8:21 left.
UWL recovered the on-side kick, taking over at the UW-River Falls' 44-yard line. Lewandowski threw his ninth touchdown pass of the game with 6:54 remaining, this one from six-yards out to Simuncak. The Falcons finished the scoring on a Beckman 14-yard touchdown pass to Traxler with 3:27 left. The drive went 75 yards in 10 plays and 3:24. After a UWL punt, UW-River Falls drove to the Eagles' 46-yard line, but Peter Kissling intercepted Beckman.
UWL totaled 682 yards of offense Saturday, including 91 rushing and 591 passing. The 682 yards ranks second in single-game school history while the 591 passing yards is a school record. UWL had a school record 701 yards versus Upper Iowa University on September 11, 1976. The Eagles averaged 9.5 yards per play and finished with 24 first downs on Saturday. UWL was five-of-11 on third-down and six-of-eight in the red-zone.
Sorenson had eight catches for a school record 297 yards with three touchdowns. His 297 yards breaks the record of 263 set by Nick Holcomb versus Ripon College (Wis.) on September 9, 2017. The 297 receiving yards are second-most in WIAC history. Chuck Braun of UW-Stevens Point finished with 303 against UW-Superior on October 16, 1982.
Spieker had nine catches for 209 yards and three touchdowns Saturday while Simuncak finished with 46 yards on seven receptions and two touchdowns. Stutzman led UWL with 69 yards rushing on 17 carries while Spieker had 26 yards on two carries.
UW-River Falls finished with 611 yards, including 118 rushing and 493 passing. The Falcons had 38 first downs in the game while going eight-of-16 on third-down and two-of-four on fourth-down. UW-River Falls won the time of possession, 31:30 to 28:30, and were five-of-eight on third-down.
Beckman went 40-of-62 for 493 yards with four touchdowns and one interception. He also led the Falcons with 54 yards rushing on 15 carries. Herink had 17 catches for 266 yards and two touchdowns while Traxler finished with eight receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Kissling led UWL with 13 tackles while Rusty Murphy had 11 tackles, including 2.5 for loss.
Max Praschak led UW-River Falls with nine tackles.
UWL returns to action Saturday, October 26 hosting UW-Oshkosh at 1:05 p.m. for Varsity Homecoming/Wall of Fame Day. Former head coach Roger Harring will also be honored at the game.