IOWA CITY, Iowa – The only empty trophy case in the University of Wisconsin locker room is empty no longer.
Wisconsin road another superb defensive effort and scratched out enough points to defeat Iowa, 17-9, in front of 70,565 fans at Kinnick Stadium, regaining possession of the Heartland Trophy.
Picking itself up after losing consecutive regular season games for the first time since 2012, Wisconsin (5-2, 2-2 Big Ten) won the first of six straight West Division contests to close the season as it continues its march toward Indianapolis.
After registering 520 yards of offense and 49 points in a road win at Purdue, Iowa (5-3, 3-2) was bottled up by the Badgers’ defense, managing only 236 total yards. Wisconsin delivered consistent pressure on Hawkeyes senior quarterback C.J. Beathard, held Iowa’s running game to 83 yards and held the hosts to 2 of 13 on third down. That work was good enough to make up for an off day offensively.
Wisconsin ran 21 of its 36 first-half plays in Iowa territory, but the Badgers continued to stumble over themselves in the red zone. UW missed a 32-yard field goal by Andrew Endicott and saw Corey Clement fumble trying to reach the ball over the goal line at the 1, resulting in Iowa getting the ball at the 20.
The turnover helped Iowa go 51 yards in 54 seconds to cut the halftime lead to 7-6.
The only score Wisconsin managed in the first half was a Bart Houston 17-yard touchdown pass to Troy Fumagalli. Making his first appearance since getting replaced in the third quarter against Georgia State Sept. 17, Houston went 3-for-3 for 38 yards on the drive.
Wisconsin added a big insurance touchdown in the third quarter when Clement made up for his fumble by barreling into the end zone from 1-yard out on third down. The senior finished with 134 yards on 35 carries.
Wisconsin appeared to seal the victory when Endicott made a 36-yard field goal with just over a minute remaining, but a 77-yard return by Desmond King made things interesting. As was the case all day, UW’s defense stood firm, forced Iowa to kick a field goal and watched the onside kick go out of bounds to seal the victory.
Wisconsin returns home Saturday for a prime time matchup against No.8 Nebraska.
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8 plays 58 yards, 4:45 TOP, 10:06 left
Troy Fumagalli 17-yd pass from Bart Houston (Andrew Endicott kick)
Key Play: Subbed in for his first series since Sept.17, Houston goes 3-for-3 for 38 yards, including the touchdown pass to Fumagalli, who broke a tackle and reached the ball over the goal line.
6 plays, 20 yards, 2:45 TOP, 3:49 left
FG Keith Duncan 40
Key Play: After a dreadful punt by P.J. Rosowski failed to flip field position, Iowa had a chance to get a first down at the UW 18 but a false start penalty, a timeout that negated a touchdown throw and a third-down throwaway forced Iowa to settle for three.
8 plays, 51 yards, :54 TOP, 0:00 left
FG Miguel Recinos 47
Key Play: Wanting to get Duncan a little closer, QB C.J. Beathard found tailback Akrun Wadley in the right flat, a catch-and-run that went for 11 yards to set up the kick.
4 plays, 62 yards, 2:04 TOP, 7:20 left
Corey Clement 1-yard run (Andrew Endicott kick)
Key Play: With the offense needing a kick, Alex Hornibrook dropped a pass into the arms of Quintez Cephus, who took an unusual route after the catch but still went 57 yards down to the Iowa 5.
9 plays, 62 yards, 4:01 TOP, 1:24 left
FG Andrew Endicott 36
Key Play: Iowa's defense had a chance to get off the field but linebacker Josey Jewell missed a TFL on Corey Clement on third-and-short, leading to a 34-yard run to the Iowa 37.
6 plays, 16 yards, :41 TOP, :43 left
FG Keith Duncan 25
Key Play: Wisconsin had a chance to ice the game, but returner Desmond King took the ensuing kickoff 77 yards to the Wisconsin 23, making everybody sweat.
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