November 17, 2007
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. Freshman Zach Brown rushed for a career-high 250 yards en route to a Wisconsin 41-34 victory over the Minnesota Gophers Saturday afternoon at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn. With the win, the Badgers reclaimed the Paul Bunyan Axe, improving to 9-3 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten.
On the opening drive of the game, Wisconsin went 53 yards in 11 plays, getting on the board first with a 29-yard field goal. Minnesota responded on its next drive, when kicker Joel Monroe put up a 47-yard field goal evening the score 3-3.
Just four seconds into the second quarter, Minnesota recorded the first touchdown of the game when quarterback Adam Weber competed a 22-yard pass to Eric Decker. The score gave the Gophers their first lead of the game.
Inside the 10-yard line, Minnesota had another opportunity to get in the endzone, but Wisconsin's defense held the Golden Gophers to a field goal, making the score 13-3 Minnesota with 12:10 remaining before the half.
On a third-and-3 for Minnesota, Shane Carter intercepted Weber's pass over the middle, giving UW momentum in the last minutes of the second quarter. The Badgers traveled 70 yards in just under four minutes, capping off the drive with an exceptional rushing effort by quarterback Tyler Donovan who scrambled and rolled in for an eight-yard touchdown, making the score 13-10 at the break.
It took just 47 seconds for the Badgers to score its first touchdown of the second half. David Gilreath gave Wisconsin good field position, finally getting tripped up on the Minnesota 18-yard line. One play later, Zach Brown ran it in 16 yards for touchdown, giving UW its first lead, 17-13, since early in the first quarter.
The Badgers upped their lead to seven points on their next drive, capping off the 87-yard drive with a Mehlhaff field goal from 20 yards out.
With the ball again, the Gophers offense remained persistent, traveling the length of the football field before tying up the score, 20-20, on a rushing touchdown.
The Badgers ramped up their intensity entering the fourth quarter, scoring three touchdowns, for 21 points to Minnesota's 14 fourth quarter points.
Bill Rentmeester and Zach Brown both rushed for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, while Donovan completed a 16-yard touchdown pass to Travis Beckum for a touchdown.
Wisconsin finished the game with 443 total yards, while Minnesota collected 501 yards. Most of UW's yards came on the ground, as the Badgers out-rushed the Gophers 325 yards to 149 yards.
The win marks the fourth straight year that Wisconsin has won at least nine games in a season, which has never happened previously in school history.
UW POST-GAME NOTES
Captains: Ben Strickland, Luke Swan, Jonathan Casillas, Andy Crooks, Ken DeBauche.
Coin Toss: Wisconsin wins toss, will receive.
With its opening drive field goal, Wisconsin has now scored on its opening drive in seven games this season.
Wisconsin, which entered today's game ranked No. 2 in the country in time of possession, lost the possession battle today against the Gophers. Minnesota kept the ball 30:27 to Wisconsins 29:33. The Badgers have won the time of possession battle in (10 of 12) games this season.
This marks the fourth straight year that Wisconsin has won at least nine games. That has never happened previously in school history.
Taylor Mehlhaff kicked two field goals today. He now has 20 for the season, the second-highest season total in school history, along with Todd Gregoire (1984). Mehlhaff had made 10 consecutive field goals before his first-half miss today.
Shane Carter had his seventh interception of the season in the second quarter. He is now tied with several others for third-most picks in a season. Only Jim Leonhard (11) and Neovia Greyer (9) have more.
Tyler Donovan rushed for his fifth career touchdown in the second quarter.
David Gilreath finished the game with two punt returns for 107 yards. It represents a career high in punt returns yardage.
Running back Zach Brown carried the ball 29 times for a career-high 250 yards. His previous career high was 108 yards last week against Michigan. Brown's 250 rushing yards are the most by a Wisconsin true freshman since Ron Dayne carried for 246 yards against Utah on Dec. 27, 1996. Brown's runs of 64 (career long) and 60 yards today represent two of Wisconsins four longest plays from scrimmage this season.
Ben Strickland's interception late in the fourth quarter was the first of his career.