Oct. 3, 2009
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Thanks to a career day from running back John Clay, the Badgers (5-0, 2-0) knocked off Minnesota for the sixth-consecutive season with a 31-28 win Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn.
In its first road test of the season, Wisconsin found itself trailing 13-10 at intermission, but bounced back to keep Paul Bunyan's axe in Madison. The Badgers scored the first 14 points of the second half, jump-started by an effort from Clay that would have made Bunyan proud. The sophomore ball-carrier pounded out a career-high 186 yards and three touchdowns on the day, including 159 yards after the break.
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Wisconsin would build a 24-13 lead early in the fourth quarter on a five-yard touchdown pass from Scott Tolzien to TE Lance Kendricks. Moments later, the Badgers would get the ball back looking poised for the knockout punch. UW drove to the Minnesota 15-yard line, but that's when the game got interesting.
A RB Zach Brown fumble at the MN 12-yard line was recovered by Gopher CB Marcus Sherels and returned 88 yards for a touchdown. Instead of boasting a 14, or even 18-point lead with seven minutes remaining, the Badgers found themselves clinging to a 24-21 lead.
Wisconsin would respond in physical fashion with an eight-play, 74-yard drive that featured a 41-yard bootleg scamper from Tolzien down to the Minnesota five-yard line. Two plays later Clay would punch it in from one yard out to build a 31-21 cushion.
True to the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry, the Gophers wouldn't go away quietly. Minnesota QB Adam Weber quickly completed a pair of deep passes to move inside the Wisconsin five-yard line. After a penalty on the Badgers, Gophers RB Duane Bennett bulled in from one-yard out to pull within 31-28 with 2:13 remaining.
After an unsuccessful Minnesota onside kick attempt, the Badgers were unable pick up a first down to salt away the win, instead punting it back to the Gophers with 1:43 left on the clock. The Brad Nortman punt was partially blocked, but a friendly Badger roll carried the ball to the MN five-yard line.
Minnesota picked up a pair of first downs, but the final possession was snuffed out when Wisconsin DE O'Brien Schofield sacked and stripped Weber at the Minnesota 24-yard line. Freshman LB Chris Borland would come up with the loose ball clinching Wisconsin's 31-28 win and ensuring that Paul Bunyan's Axe would reside in Madison for another year.
The Badgers will travel to Columbus next weekend for a match-up with the Buckeyes on Saturday, October 10. Kickoff for the showdown in the Horseshoe is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. (central).