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Warrior Football Scores in Final Seconds to Beat UW-River Falls

By: Zach Throne

Jeff Jones celebrates with teammates after a touchdown run on Sept. 21 in Forest City, IA. (Picture from Kristine Kingland)

With only six seconds left on the clock, sophomore Slater Gifford’s kick cleared the uprights and clinched the win.

The Warriors beat the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Falcons 27-24 in comeback fashion on Saturday to finish their non-conference slate.

Waldorf running back Jeff Jones made his Bolstorff Field debut a memorable one, as he rushed for 83 yards, received for 132 yards, and scored two total touchdowns.

“Jeff made so many plays for us today,” said assistant coach Drew Christianson,” He makes you feel thankful that he is on our team.”

The D-III foe led Waldorf by seven points with just over eight minutes left in the game, and that’s when the Waldorf offense stepped up to the challenge.

All-American QB Hilton Joseph made two plays with his feet to cap off the game-tying drive. He rolled out right to buy time for his receivers to find an opening in the defense. Ryan Harrison did just that to earn his first career catch on the 22-yard reception. On the ensuing play, Joseph pulled the ball for a 19 yard touchdown scamper to tie the game at 24.

Then the Warrior defense took its turn to make a big play.

On fourth down and just over three minutes in the game, senior linebacker Caleb Wilson reeled in the Falcon ball carrier to turn over Wisconsin-River Falls on downs.

The stop was one of Wilson’s 14 tackles on the game and gifted the Warrior offense with possession of the ball.

Taking over at their own 26-yard line, they had only three minutes and 10 seconds to get within field goal range for Slater Gifford.

After a couple runs for minimal gain, Joseph found Jones for an 11-yard pass to get the chains moving.

Later in the drive, Harrison caught another clutch throw from Joseph to get the Warriors to the Falcons 8-yard line.

An incompletion, a 4-yard run, and an illegal chop block penalty followed, leaving the Warriors at the 14-yard line with a 31-yard attempt for Gifford.

Gifford made the biggest kick of his Waldorf career to send the Falcons home with a loss, capping off a perfect day of kicking to go along with four touchbacks, earning him North Star Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Week.

“The way that we battled back for the win today was awesome.” said defensive back MaCoy Yeakel, who had seven tackles, a fumble recovery, and two pass breakups. “Crazy things happen at this field, so we know that we are never out of a game.”

The Warriors improved to 2-1 with the win heading into conference play.

They head to Dickinson, ND on Sep. 28 to take on the number 16 ranked Blue Hawks of Dickinson State (3-1, 0-0).