Seniors bring back the Axe

Seniors say goodbye to Camp Randall and reclaim the Paul Bunyan Axe

MADISON—Scott Starks waited two years to run over and get the Paul Bunyan's Axe.

After watching Minnesota claim it last year in Minneapolis and after being hobbled by an ankle injury his sophomore year, it was that much better for the senior cornerback running over to the Gopher sidelines at the end of a 38-14 rout of Minnesota Saturday.

"I wasn't going to let [anybody] beat me,' Starks said, saying that his 4.28 40 speed didn't hurt helping him to be the first to lift the Axe. "I was talking before the game, I was like ‘I want to be on the field, be on that side so I can grab it …' It was all worth it."

For 24 of the Wisconsin Badgers, Saturday marked the last time they would step on the Camp Randall field. The day could not have been any sweeter. A decisive win, arguably the most complete one the Badgers have had all season, a record-sized home crowd and a picture perfect night game concluded an undefeated home season for the second time since 1962.

"That was one of the goals we set as seniors this year was to stay undefeated and play good football at home," said senior running back Anthony Davis, who finished the game with 124 yards.

While Starks was eager to be the first to the Axe, Davis said he was more than content to sit and soak in the atmosphere.

"I was just sitting on the bench enjoying my last minutes at the stadium … it meant more to me to see those guys running around with it."

Senior Day may have been overshadowed by the breakout game of sophomore quarterback John Stocco, but the seniors left their mark on both ends of the game.

Davis had 31 carries and two touchdowns. Senior receiver Darrin Charles had two receptions for 32 yards. Defensively, the front four linemen continued to wrack havoc on the Gopher offense, forcing them to change game plans after the Badgers took the early 21-0 lead in the first quarter.

For the younger members of the team, getting the win for the guys who paved the way for them was important and had been stressed by coach Barry Alvarez.

"The last game at Camp Randall is always an important one for the seniors, so we really put a lot of emphasis on that and asked everyone to win this game for the seniors," Alvarez said.

"I love them all," junior tailback Matt Bernstein said. "You want to win the last game for the seniors. It's their last game, you want to go out with great memories."

This game should provide plenty of memories for this group who still have big dreams in the back of its mind—behind the "1-0" philosophy of course.

"It feels great to get the axe back," said senior defensive lineman Erasmus James, who in his first time out on the field since an injury against Purdue, batted the ball down on third-and-five. "We're 9-0, we look 1-0 every week and it's just a great opportunity to show the younger guys what we do here and how we want to keep this axe in its case."

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