Two plays make the difference

Badgers get big stop and go the length of the field on successive plays.

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Football is often a game of big plays. With the game on the line, the Badgers came up with two, back-to-back, that will be tough to top.

 

Akron was on the march again. The Zips had scored three second half touchdowns and trailed just 34-31 with just more than six minutes left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Charlie Frye was on his way to throwing for 372 yards, 242 of which came in a second half when he was practically unstoppable.

 

On third and goal from the 17, Frye stepped up in the pocket and drilled a pinpoint pass to tight end Mike Brake, who made the catch at the one-yard line with Wisconsin safety Ryan Aiello draped all over him.

 

Trailing by three, the Zips elected to go for it on fourth down.

 

"You have come that far and his kids had momentum," Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. "I thought he made the right call to try to take the lead."

 

"I don't think overtime was good idea," Akron coach Lee Owens said. "We needed momentum. We really felt, players and coaches alike, we're going to go for the win."

 

Akron lined up in a one receiver set and gave the ball to tailback Bobby Hendry, who had scored easily from two yards out on the Zips first possession of the second half. Hendry ran for 101 yards Saturday and needed one yard to give Akron an unfathomable lead after trailing 31-10 at halftime.

 

As Hendry plunged over Akron's offensive line, however, Wisconsin linebacker Jeff Mack took his legs out from under him and safety Aiello finished the job, meeting Hendry in midair and denying the Zips the end zone.

 

According to Aiello, Wisconsin's pregame film study led them to believe that Akron would run the play they did.

 

"I knew that was the play they were going to run," said Aiello. "It is all gaps. Everyone staying in their gaps and getting to the back in time."

 

Few plays could have topped that goal line stand. The next one did.

 

Wisconsin came out with Lee Evans set to the far right side of the formation. The play had come in from offensive coordinator Brian White,  ‘wing right 56 jerk', everyone in the huddle knew what came next.

 

"We need some kind of momentum change, somehow someway," White said.

 

"(The defense) stopped them, it was a sudden change, we got on the field and I ran to the huddle," quarterback Jim Sorgi said. "They called the play and I said, ‘great call.'"

 

"I know it is for me," Evans said. "I'm amped up. It is a critical time and that is the time to make the play."

 

Sorgi dropped back, set and surveyed the field with all the time in the world to deliver the pass. He had overshot five open receivers on deep passes at different points in the game. This time, though, there was no doubt. Sorgi's pass sailed perfectly down field toward Evans, who was racing down the sideline.

  

Evans snagged the pass in stride, making the catch at the 38-yard line. In a fraction of a second he left the defensive back in the dust and sprinted uncontested down the sideline for an improbable 99-yard, game-shifting touchdown.

 

"It was a play that, it is a one-man route," Evans said. "It is either hit or miss. ‘Sorg' had a good protection and he laid he ball out there where I didn't have to stop for it."


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