COURTESY UW SPORTS INFORMATION
ANN ARBOR, Mich. - A late drive by the Wisconsin Badgers (6-6, 1-6 Big Ten) came up short as they lost 21-14 to the Michigan Wolverines (9-2, 6-1 Big Ten) this afternoon in Ann Arbor.
Brooks Bollinger's pass on fourth down and 10 went over the head of Darrin Charles with 1:29 remaining in the fourth quarter, thus ending Wisconsin's chance at a tying score.
Sophomore running back Anthony Davis led the Badgers offensively with 154 yards and a touchdown run. His counterpart, Michigan's Chris Perry, racked up 175 yards on the ground.
Wisconsin was able to make it a close game after a slow start. Michigan took a 14-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. The Wolverines opened the first quarter with a five play, 75-yard drive capped by a 27-yard touchdown run by B.J. Askew. A fumble by the Badgers on their first offensive play gave Michigan great field position and the Wolverines capitalized three plays later with a Perry touchdown run.
Sophomore walk-on Jim Leonhard stole back the momentum with a 39-yard punt return for a touchdown with 1:27 to go in the first quarter to pull Wisconsin within a touchdown. The return, Leonhard's longest of the season, was the first punt return touchdown by a Badger since Josh Hunt ran one back against Western Michigan on Aug. 31, 2000. Leonhard returned the ball well all day, totaling a season-high 97 yards on just five returns.
Leonhard made another big play only minutes later when he recovered a Michigan fumble on the Badgers' 41-yard line. On second down and eight, Michigan quarterback John Navarre dumped the ball off to Askew who was then stripped by Jake Sprague, allowing Leonhard to pounce on the ball. The Badgers, however, were unable to take advantage.
On Michigan's next drive, freshman LaMarr Watkins made his first career interception when he picked off an errant Navarre throw and returned it 11 yards to the Michigan 42-yard line. Wisconsin drove the ball down the field, but missed a 27-yard field goal, keeping the score at 14-7.
But with 4:31 left in the second quarter, Davis got the Badger offense on the board with a two-yard touchdown run on third down and goal to tie the game at 14-14. It concluded a six play, 54-yard drive, highlighted by a 26-yard run by Davis.
The Badgers' attempted Hail Mary at the end of the first half went in and out of the hands of Jonathan Orr, so the teams went into the locker rooms tied at halftime.
Michigan controlled the ball for the majority of the third quarter and scored what turned out to be the winning touchdown. The Wolverines took 8:43 off the clock with a 16 play, 78-yard drive ending with Braylon Edwards hauling in an eight-yard touchdown pass from Navarre. With the extra point, Michigan took a 21-14 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter.
The Badgers return to Camp Randall next Saturday to play their regular season finale against the Minnesota Golden Gophers (7-4, 3-4 Big Ten). The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe kicks off at 11:05 a.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN. It is also the last appearance for the Badger seniors at home and a chance for the Badgers to secure a bowl bid.
Game Notes: Orr became only the second freshman receiver in Big Ten history to have more than 800 yards receiving … Leonhard's 97 punt return yards moved him to second in school history for most in a season with 414 – he is 13 yards short of Nick Davis' record of 427 set in 1998.
Badgers Drop Heartbreaker in Ann Arbor
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