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Wisconsin retains Heartland Trophy in thrilling 28–17 win over Iowa

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What a final couple of minutes!

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

IOWA CITY, Iowa — On a crucial, potentially season-defining drive, the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers came up big with a go-ahead score from the arm of Alex Hornibrook.

With under a minute left, Hornibrook found A.J. Taylor from 17 yards out on a bullet to take a four-point lead. Then after a late T.J. Edwards interception, senior Alec Ingold sealed the game with a touchdown for a 28-17 win over Iowa in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night.

Wisconsin gained 415 yards on the evening. Hornibrook threw for 205 yards on 17-of-22 passing. Running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for 113 yards on 25 carries, while A.J. Taylor finished with 44 yards receiving on three receptions—including his last one for a touchdown.

Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley completed 14 of 23 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns with the one pick, while redshirt sophomore tight end T.J. Hockenson gashed Wisconsin for three catches for 108 yards. Noah Fant caught three passes for 29 yards and two touchdowns against defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard’s unit.

After Iowa drove down the field on its first series, the Wisconsin defense clamped down and shut down a Stanley quarterback sneak on fourth down. Eleven plays and 95 yards later, the Badgers struck first on the scoreboard to take an early lead with the help of some key passing plays.

On a 3rd-and-2 from the Iowa 39-yard line, Hornibrook found Ingold down the sideline for a 33-yard completion and a first down. One play later, a perfectly-executed play-action saw Hornibrook find tight end Jake Ferguson for a six-yard touchdown reception.

Midway through the second quarter, Iowa tied it up through the air as well. On a 3rd-and-9, Wisconsin could not get to Stanley, who heaved a pass downfield into the arms of Hockenson. One play later, the redshirt junior quarterback found Fant for a 20-yard touchdown reception to tie the game at 7–7.

Starting off the third quarter, Hockenson’s number was called again. On a 3rd-and-1, Stanley found his redshirt sophomore tight end for a 45-yard reception to the UW 6. Wisconsin’s defense held the Iowa offense out of the end zone thanks to inside linebacker Ryan Connelly’s third-down tackle for loss, but Miguel Recinos connected on a 24-yard field goal to give the Hawkeyes a 10–7 lead.

After a colossal mistake by an Iowa special teamer during a punt led to a fumble recovery by true freshman defensive back Travian Blaylock, Wisconsin took over at the Iowa 10-yard line. On a 3rd-and-Goal, Hornibrook found sophomore wide receiver Danny Davis for a 12-yard touchdown pass. With Rafael Gaglianone’s extra point, the Badgers took a 14–10 lead.

Wisconsin’s defense could not contain Iowa’s offense on the ensuing series, however. Stanley and the Hawkeyes’ offense drove 75 yards in eight plays, ending with a Fant one-yard touchdown reception. Stanley was 4-of-4 for 32 yards on that drive, while fellow Wisconsin native Toren Young carried for 19 yards on two carries in UW territory.

Hornibrook drove the offense down the field with under six minutes left in the game, ultimately resulting in a touchdown to take the lead. The southpaw hit A.J. Taylor for a 17-yard touchdown with 57 seconds left to take a 21–17 lead. Hornibrook completed all five passes on that drive for 67 yards on the go-ahead series.

Stanley and Iowa still had one final drive to try to capitalize, but wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette could not reel in a pass. Edwards caught the deflection, and the Hawkeyes turned the ball over.

On a 3rd-and-6, Ingold took the handful off a fullback reverse, throwing the Iowa defense off completely. He took it off the left side of the field and no one would catch him as he entered the end zone for the proverbial dagger.

Wisconsin retains the Heartland Trophy for the third consecutive season.