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No. 12 Badgers roll past Rebels in opener


Badger Gameday: UNLV

12 Wisconsin 41, UNLV 21
Sam Boyd Stadium • Las Vegas, Nev.

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
14 3 24 0 41
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 Statistical Leaders
 • Rushing: John Clay - 123 YD, 7.2 Avg., 2 TD
 • Passing: Scott Tolzien - 15-20, 197 YD, INT
 • Receiving: David Gilreath - 4 REC, 68 YD
 • Defense: Chris Borland - 5 TKL, 2.0 TFL, 1 SK
 Scoring Summary
 First Quarter
7:23 Clay 5 TD run (Welch kick)
WIS 4:32 Ball 1 TD run (Welch kick)
 UNLV 1:56 Chandler 19 int ret TD (Kohorst kick)
 Second Quarter
WIS 10:13 Welch 20 FG
 UNLV 1:08 Payne 16 TD pass from Clausen (Kohorst kick)
 Third Quarter
WIS  13:35 Henry 20 fumble ret TD (Welch kick)
WIS 8:25 Welch 33 FG
WIS 6:22 Clay 16 TD run (Welch kick)
WIS 1:39 Ball 16 TD run (Welch kick)
 Fourth Quarter
 UNLV 12:42 Stolden 9 TD pass from Clayton (Kohorst kick)
 Stats at a Glance
 • First Downs
21 10
 • Total Offensive Yards
475 217
 • Passing Yards
197 105
 • Rushing Yards
278 112
 • Penalties-Yards
5-35 4-30
 • Turnovers 2 1
 • Punts-Avg.
5-45.2 8-34.4
 • Punt Returns-Avg.
1-2.0 2-9.0
 • Kick Returns-Avg. 3-17.3 5-18.6
 • 3rd-Down Conversions 6-13 4-14
 • 4th-Down Conversions 0-0 0-0
 • Time of Possession
38:19 21:41
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Sept. 4, 2010

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. -- A dominant effort on defense and a bruising rushing attack carried the No. 12 Wisconsin football team to a season-opening, 41-21 win over UNLV late Saturday.

The Rebels were opportunistic early in scoring a pair of defense-fueled touchdowns, but the Badgers responded with a stifling defensive performance and a healthy dose of their power rushing attack to rattle off 24 unanswered points in the second half and put things out of reach.

Junior John Clay and sophomore Montee Ball ran for two touchdowns each and combined with true freshman James White to rack up 261 rushing yards, while senior quarterback Scott Tolzien completed 15 of 20 passes for 197 yards.

In all, the Badgers racked up 475 yards of offense while limiting UNLV to 217 total yards.

"My hat goes off to the defense because I thought they played well all day," head coach Bret Bielema said.

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An interception return for touchdown in the first quarter and a fumble recovery that led to a score in the second period kept the Rebels close at halftime, but it was all Badgers after intermission.

Junior defensive back Aaron Henry turned things in Wisconsin's favor just over a minute into the second half when he scooped up a fumble forced by junior J.J. Watt and rumbled 20 yards for a touchdown.

Combined with a 33-yard field goal from Philip Welch on the Badgers' next offensive possession and touchdown runs by Clay and Ball minutes later, the score offered more than enough breathing room for UW.

That's because the Badgers' defensive unit suffocated UNLV. The Rebels were just 4-for-14 on third down, and UW won the time-of-possession battle by nearly 17 minutes.

Before an 18-yard run by C.J. Cox late in the third quarter, the Rebels had managed just 16 yards of total offense.

On the flip side, Wisconsin's offensive unit did what it does best in managing the clock with a balanced attack on the ground and through the air.

The Badgers held the ball for more than 38 minutes -- including an opening drive that ate nearly half of the first quarter -- and averaged 6.8 yards per play by rushing for 278 yards and throwing for 197 more.

Any thoughts the Rebels had of hanging with the Badgers evaporated into the desert night when UW put together a 24-point third quarter.

"We didn't take care of our part on offense in the first half," Clay said. "We had a couple mistakes and we had to go back out there and finish some drives."

It began with Henry's fumble return and gained momentum when Welch closed out a seven-play drive that included three runs for 32 yards by Clay with his 33-yard field goal.

Clay finished the job the next time Wisconsin gained possession -- after another three-and-out for UNLV -- by breaking off a 16-yard touchdown run. White opened the drive with a pair of runs for 20 yards before Clay covered the final 23 on the way to the end zone.

After Tolzien rolled out to hit Kyle Jefferson for a 21-yard connection on UW's next possession, Ball, White and Clay combined on five runs that covered 62 yards to reach the goal line again.

This time it was Ball putting up the points, as he got loose for a 16-yard TD run that made it 41-14 Badgers.

Ball finished the day with 79 yards on 16 carries as a third of the Badgers' tailback trio. Clay tallied 123 yards -- and averaged an outstanding 7.2 yards per carry -- while White racked up 59.

"We all got a chance to get out there and show what we can do, and we all did some good things," Clay said.

The Badgers' ball-control style was evident out of the gate, with UW consuming 7:37 worth of clock to march 80 yards in 14 plays on its opening possession. Clay capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown run, the first of two he scored to open the season.

Ball helped double the Badgers' advantage on their next possession with a 1-yard TD plunge. That run was set up by a great pass, as Tolzien delivered a ball over the middle and caught David Gilreath in stride for a 45-yard connection all the way to the UNLV 1.

Tolzien's next offering wasn't as pretty for Badgers fans, with UNLV's Will Chandler picking off the pass attempt and racing 19 yards to paydirt to halve UW's lead.

The Badgers bounced back with a scoring drive their next time out, as Tolzien connected with Nick Toon on a 15-yard reception and White broke loose on an 18-yard pickup to set up a 20-yarder by Welch.

Another offensive misstep led to another UNLV score just before halftime, with Toon fumbling after hauling in a 21-yard pass from Tolzien at the goal line.

Chandler struck again, scooping up the ball and taking it 82 yards to the UW 16 to set up a Mike Clausen to Phillip Payne touchdown pass that made it 17-14 at the half.

The Rebels didn't score again, however, until early in the fourth quarter on a TD pass from Omar Clayton to Irshad Stolden. By then, the Badgers had all but sealed their fifth win over UNLV in the teams' last six meetings.

Wisconsin now turns its attention to next Saturday's home-opener against San Jose State (0-1). The game is set for an 11 a.m. kickoff.

"There was definitely some coaching items tonight, but we say every day that tomorrow is the most important day of the year and we'll focus on San Jose State," Bielema said. "I like that attitude of this team.

"I feel like they know they can be a good football team and really want to work at it."

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