Running to victory, Badgers top Mountaineers 24-17

Wisconsin was commendably balanced offensively Saturday, but when it counted, the Badgers called upon Anthony Davis and the offensive line.

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Morgantown, W. Va.--On the clock, 5:17. Fourth Quarter. Score tied, 17-17.

 

The Badgers defense has turned the tide and the offense, after flirting with the end zone throughout the day, is starting to take control.

 

The Badgers were very balanced offensively Saturday, but with the game on the line, the team turned to its old stalwart—the power running game.

 

Seven run-heavy plays later, the Badgers had earned 67 yards and the game-winning touchdown.

 

Wisconsin scored the final 17 points Saturday, coming from behind for a 24-17 victory in the season opener with West Virginia.

 

The game-winning drive started balanced enough. Lee Evans, who early in the fourth quarter caught a 20-yard touchdown pass to tie the game, snagged a 15-yard reception, giving UW a first-and-ten at the 48. It was the last pass the Badgers would throw on this day.

 

The Badgers offensive line played well throughout the afternoon, but absolutely dominated on this drive. Tackles Morgan Davis and Mike Lorenz, guards Dan Buenning and Jonathan Clinkscale, center Donovan Raiola, tight end Tony Paciotti and freshman offensive tackle Joe Thomas, who played a blocking tight end role down the stretch, simply mauled the Mountaineers defense, opening gaping hole after gaping hole.

 

When it was all said and done, the Badgers had gone six straight running plays for 52 yards. Anthony Davis had five carries for 44 yards, including a one-yard plunge for the game-winning score.

 

West Virginia's defense, which had controlled the tempo for much of the third quarter and had kept the Badgers out of the end zone until early in the fourth, was tormented down the stretch. The Badgers strength up front was simply too much. Davis had runs of 10, 7 and 21 as the pounding began. Dwayne Smith spelled Davis and took it for eight. Davis returned and finished the deal with runs of five and one.

 

"I thought the O-line did a heck of a job," quarterback Jim Sorgi said. "The holes were huge."

 

The Badgers offensive line was supposed to be a question mark. Not so in game one. The Badgers ran for 223 yards and the line did not yield a sack. Quarterback Jim Sorgi was rarely pressured Saturday, with a combination of good blocking and a short passing game neutralizing West Virginia's blitz and stunt packages.

 

Wisconsin's offense moved the ball well Saturday, but could not find the end zone or even reach the red zone for that matter. The Badgers crossed midfield on four out of five first half drives, but never got closer than the West Virginia 23-yard line. Two of those drives resulted in missed field goals.

 

"We moved the ball all game," Sorgi said. "Our game wasn't a question of moving the ball. We just couldn't punch it in."

 

The Badgers struggled mightily on two of its three possession in the third quarter, though a 69-yard drive resulted in a key field goal and marked the first time the Badgers crossed the Mountaineer 20-yard line.

 

It all came together in the fourth quarter for Wisconsin. Sorgi found Evans for a 20-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 17-17.

 

Evans's catch put the Badgers in position for the game-winning drive.


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