RIVER FALLS, Wis. — The seventh-ranked UW-River Falls football team was about force overtime Saturday against No. 4 UW-La Crosse.
With seconds left, the Falcons needed a 26-yard field goal, which would have called off a 24-0 second-half comeback.
UW-L’s Jack Kelly had other ideas. The senior surged through the line and blocked the kick, sending the Eagles sideline into pure elation, and the River Falls fans and players into utter shock.
The 31-28 win clinched at least a share of the WIAC championship for the second consecutive year. The Eagles (8-1, 6-0) also received the league’s automatic bid into the Divisiin III playoffs.
The Eagles will wrap up the regular season next Saturday at Stevens Point (1-8, 0-6). UW-L would share the conference title of it loses to the Pointers, while UW-Whitewater wins at home against UW-Eau Claire (2-7, 1-5). The Eagles hold the tiebreaker having beaten the Warhawks.
UW-L had built a 24-7 halftime lead by harassing and confusing Falcons quarterback Kaleb Blaha, who had just 21 yards on 12 carries in the first half and two lost fumbles that resulted in 14 points.
Meanwhile his counterpart, Keyser Helterbrand had three touchdowns in the first half, including scores to Jack Studer and Zack Watson. He finished with four touchdowns and 246 total yards.
Blaha, who entered the game with 2,284 yards passing, another 895 rushing and 38 total touchdowns, found the end zone three times on the ground in the second half, nearly completing the comeback.