Badgers continue undefeated march

first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoIndiana’s defense managed to hold Wisconsin star tailback Brian Calhoun relatively in check. However, the Hoosiers couldn’t handle Brandon Williams and Jonathan Orr.With the Hoosiers loading up the box to stop Calhoun, the Badgers turned to the passing game to beat IU 41-24. Williams continued to move his way up the UW record books, catching six passes for 113 yards and scoring three first-half touchdowns — two on passes from John Stocco and the other on a 63-yard punt return — to give the Badgers control of the contest early on. With his performance, he passed former UW great Al Toon for second place in the school’s all-time receiving yard annals.”It’s great company,” Williams said. “Lee Evans, Chris Chambers, Al Toon. Those guys have moved on and done great things, and to be in the upper echelon of Wisconsin history is just a great thing for me.”The senior from St. Louis, Mo., who left the game after suffering a bruised knee in the second half, started off the scoring for UW by catching a 17-yard strike from Stocco on a slant to give the Badgers a 7-0 lead on their second possession of the contest. The touchdown was Williams’ first scoring grab since Oct. 4, 2003 — a drought that had spanned 22 games.”Junior year, it was a rough year,” Williams said. “A lot of nagging injuries, new quarterback; it just wasn’t all clicking on all cylinders.”Orr provided Wisconsin’s passing attack with a deep threat, stretching the field with a 47-yard reception on the first play of the scoring drive. He added another 47-yard catch in the fourth quarter, as well as a highlight-reel touchdown grab in the back of the end zone that was initially ruled incomplete until an official’s review. For Orr, the four catch, 128-yard performance was his best in terms of receptions since the 2002 season.”[Orr] played well,” co-offensive coordinator Paul Chryst said. “I don’t think in the sense of breakout that he had been struggling. He just got some throws come his way, and he did what we thought he’d do, be it the first game or this one.”Despite playing from behind, Indiana hung tough in the first half, using big plays in the passing game. On the ensuing possession after Williams’ first score, sophomore quarterback Blake Powers hit freshman wideout James Hardy on a slant for an 83-yard score, tying the game with 7:48 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Hardy beat Badger cornerback Brett Bell, who fell down trying to make the tackle.Following a Taylor Mehlhaff field goal that put Wisconsin up 10-7 just over four minutes later, Williams stuck another dagger in the Hoosiers’ hearts, this time by means of a 63-yard punt return.”Brandon really competed, as usual,” head coach Barry Alvarez said. “I tell you, he’s a guy that wants the ball in his hands. That punt return was awesome, and again, we had a lot of guys straining to give him help on that.”Indiana would add another long Powers touchdown pass and a 34-yard field goal from kicker Joe Kleinsmith before halftime, but could not come any closer than 10 points after Williams’ return score. In fact, the Hoosiers didn’t score another point after Kleinsmith’s second-quarter field goal until Powers connected with Hardy in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.Facing nine and sometimes 10 defenders in the box, Calhoun scored his 10th touchdown of the season in the second quarter, but struggled to find open space in comparison to weeks past. The junior still managed to rush for 101 yards, but took 26 carries to do so.”I know statistically it wasn’t his best football game, but I was really proud with the way he played and really made a difference in the game,” co-offensive coordinator Brian White said.Despite giving up 41 points, Indiana’s defense didn’t make things easy for Stocco and the Wisconsin offense, blitzing frequently and tallying three sacks and five quarterback hurries. Stocco also tossed a pair of interceptions in the contest.”I didn’t think we blocked [the blitz] that well,” Alvarez said. “The first half, when we had time we completed the ball, but we had a lot of missed blocks, a lot of people running free in the middle.”However, when the junior signal caller had time to throw, he made IU pay for its aggressive strategy, completing 13 of 24 passes for 274 yards (the second most of his career) and a trio of scores, matching a career best.And though Alvarez himself acknowledged Wisconsin hardly played its best game, the team managed to push its record to 5-0 and avoid a letdown following last Saturday’s emotional win over Michigan.”That just speaks monuments about the hard work that this team puts in,” Williams said. “We may not be hitting on all cylinders, but we still find different ways, different facets of the game to score and to do what we have to do.”last_img

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