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Wisconsin defeats Rutgers 31–17

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A comfortable but not pretty win for the Badgers.

Matt Fleming

MADISON — Behind the legs of sophomore running back Jonathan Taylor, the Wisconsin Badgers defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 31–17 on a crisp fall Saturday afternoon inside Camp Randall Stadium.

Taylor ran for 208 yards on 27 carries with three rushing touchdowns, while the offense racked up 317 yards on the ground overall. However, injury news came about from the quarterback position as starter Alex Hornibrook—who completed only seven of 16 passes for 92 yards with two interceptions—left the game after halftime with a head injury. Hornibrook missed last week’s loss to Northwestern due to a concussion, and after being in the team’s concussion protocol to begin the week, was cleared for Saturday’s game.

Jim Leonhard’s defense held Rutgers to 333 yards on the day. Ryan Connelly racked up eight tackles, one for loss, and one quarterback hurry.

Wisconsin took the opening kickoff and drove down the field quickly. Six plays and 65 yards later, UW found paydirt. Out of 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one tight end, and one running back), Taylor pounded it in from five yards out. Rafael Gaglianone’s extra point made it 7–0 Wisconsin early on.

After the first touchdown by Wisconsin (6–3, 4–2 Big Ten), there was never really a doubt that Paul Chryst’s team would defeat Rutgers (1–8, 0–6), though the offense sputtered in the first half.

Starting at their 8-yard line, the Badgers began a typical Wisconsin drive, going 78 yards in 18 plays and nearly eating up nine minutes of clock. The series ended with a Gaglianone 32-yard field goal to give UW a 10–0 lead with 14:00 remaining in the half.

Wisconsin’s offense looked lethargic over the first two quarters. Even with a blocked field goal giving the Badgers great field position, the team went three-and-out and punted from the Rutgers 36-yard line.

To start the second half, Jack Coan entered the game as Wisconsin designated Hornibrook as out with the reoccurrence of his head injury. Starting at the UW 12, the rushing attack came alive again by going 88 yards in six plays. Redshirt senior running back Taiwan Deal carried the ball three times for 41 yards on the series, including a 29-yard rush to get into Rutgers territory.

Two plays later, Taylor scampered 39 yards for his second touchdown of the day, and with Gaglianone’s extra point, Wisconsin held a 17–0 advantage.

Rutgers responded with a 71-yard drive of its own—including a 40-yard-catch-and run by running back Raheem Blackshear—that resulted in a field in a Justin Davidovicz 22-yard field goal to make it 17–3.

Taylor’s third touchdown of the day came on the next Wisconsin possession on an 18-yard run. With Coan at quarterback, the Badgers just pounded the ball with the run game. Deal carried the rock three times, = Taylor four. The latter’s final rush of that drive went 18 yards and into the end zone.

Rutgers would get one touchdown on the day, driving 57 yards in eight plays, 30 coming on a Blackshear reception. Running back Jonathan Hilliman took it in from one yard to make it 24–10 Rutgers in the fourth quarter.

Blackshear only rushed for 38 yards on 10 carries but caught eight passes for 162 yards and a score for the Scarlet Knights.

Wisconsin’s offense again responded to make it a three-score game, going 75 yards in 10 plays with a mix of rushing and passing success. To cap UW’s scoring on offense, Coan found wide receiver Danny Davis for an 11-yard score.

Coan finished the game 5-of-7 for 64 yards and a touchdown.

In true mop-up time, Rutgers added another touchdown after a 76-yard drive against some Wisconsin reserves. Blackshear finally found the end zone on a five-yard touchdown reception from Artur Sitkowski to cap the game’s scoring.

Wisconsin travels to Penn State to take on the Nittany Lions next weekend.