October 5, 2008

Second consecutive heartbreaker

MADISON, Wis. - As if last weekend was not tough enough for the UW, this time they lost at home after having a late lead. True freshman Terrelle Pryor led the Buckeye's on a 12 play, 80-yard touchdown drive, capped off by his own 11-yard scamper into the end zone to give his team a 20-17 lead with just over one minute to play.

Though the Badgers got the ball back with just over a minute to play, Allan Evridge (13-25, 147 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) forced a throw that was consequently intercepted by Malcolm Jenkins, signifying an end to UW's comeback attempt as well as their conference title chances.

"It's tough, it's not an easy thing," Badger lineman John Moffitt said after the loss. "We all fought hard and it was a tough thing to have to deal with, but I don't want anyone to think it was that one play or anything like that."

On the game winning touchdown play, Pryor and Chris Wells lined up in the shotgun formation. After receiving the snap, Pryor immediately rolled out to his left, faked a pitch to Wells and turned up field for the easy touchdown.

"I know from our standpoint we were trying to get in a call from second and long," head coach Bret Bielema said regarding OSU's go ahead touchdown run. "They had been going with a lot of deep outs, quick outs and quick turns and I wanted to be able to be in the coverage.

"They switched up and went to the quarterback option in second and long and obviously there wasn't anybody in position to tackle the quarterback."

Before Ohio State's game winning score, the Badgers answered a Buckeye field goal with a 10 play, 63-yard touchdown drive to give UW a 17-13 edge with just six and a half minutes to play.

Redshirt freshman John Clay proved to be the spark plug in that drive carrying the ball four times for 36 yards to set up a P.J. Hill two-yard touchdown run that, at the time, sent 81,608 Badger fans into mass celebration.

"I think I've grown as the season's gone on," Clay, who finished the game with 69 rushing yards on 10 carries, said following the loss. "The last couple games I was kind of slow starting and now leading up to the game I started out fast and had no turnovers, so it was good for me."

The night though, was not good for UW. In the end, the game really formed around a healthy Wells who finished the game with 168 rushing yards and a touchdown, and a poised Pryor (13-19 passing for 144 yards) refusing to let their team lose.

Starting his first collegiate game on the road, Pryor never let the crowd noise, or adversity slow him down. Including an early interception by Allen Langford and trailing 10-7 at the break.

"He was everything the coaches said he would be," UW senior Matt Shaughnessy said after the game. "It's tough when it's second, third and long and they get a first down on a run, but that's football. You've just got to bounce back and play the next play."

For the second straight season, the Badgers have lost two conference games in a row, essentially ending any hopes of a conference title run. The loss also marks the first time the Badgers lost a home night game in 11 tries and the first loss for Bielema at home as head coach.

While Saturday's version of the Badgers was an improvement from a week ago in Michigan, the fact remains they are winless in the conference and have seen their once promising season dwindle into a 3-2 overall record.

"I could come out and say, 'Yeah, I am satisfied with how we played,' but we lost and that is what it comes down to," senior tight end Travis Beckum, who finished with 60 receiving yards said. "When deciding my goals and wanting to win Big Ten Championships but then losing ball games, it's kind of taking that faith away."

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