Badgers let another win slip away

first_imgMATT FLEMMING/Herald photoEAST LANSING, Mich. — During its tumultuous start to the conference season, the University of Wisconsin football team seemingly found a different way to lose each game.There was the second-half collapse at Michigan, the final drive against Ohio State, the blowout against Penn State and getting run over in Iowa. After punch after punch, one would have thought the Badgers had lost in virtually every conceivable way.After Saturday’s disaster, you can add another way to that list.Up 11 points with nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter and seemingly in control, Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema and the UW sidelines were flagged for back-to-back penalties, causing the momentum to shift drastically in the other direction.In the following minutes, Michigan State scored the game’s final 12 points to cap a stunning comeback on a 44-yard Brett Swenson field goal with seven seconds remaining to stun Wisconsin, 25-24, at Spartan Stadium.“We have to play well enough to overcome certain obstacles, and that’s on us,” senior tackle Mike Newkirk said. “It’s disappointing. It’s heartbreaking. It’s been trying times here.”When John Clay scampered untouched for a 32-yard touchdown with just over nine minutes remaining, the Badgers (4-5, 1-5 Big Ten), leading 24-13, looked as if their season was beginning to turn around.Before they could blink, Wisconsin began to unravel, and it started with the attitude of its head coach.After the ensuing kickoff, the Badgers were flagged for a delay of game penalty after, according to safety Jay Valai, he unintentionally bumped into the linesman while heading onto the field.The five-yard penalty drew the ire of Bielema, who was flagged for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, moving the start of the Michigan State drive from their own 36 to UW’s 44.“They said our defensive unit went on the field too fast, [and] we hadn’t been warned or told to be aware of that,” Bielema said about the first penalty. “When I asked what the cause for the foul was, [the linesman] told me he was being interfered with to do his job. I told him that in my opinion, he wasn’t doing a good job, and that’s what drew the 15-yard penalty.”Those 20 bonus yards got the ball rolling for the Spartans (8-2, 5-1 Big Ten), as the 75,121 Michigan State fans finally had something to start cheering about. Running back Javon Ringer, who had been stymied all afternoon by UW’s defensive front, managed to bully his way in from two yards to score his second touchdown of the game, which cut the lead to five after MSU unsuccessfully attempted a two-point conversion.After a UW three-and-out, the Spartans tacked on a 50-yard Swenson field goal to cut the lead to one with five minutes, 16 seconds remaining.After an eight-play drive by Wisconsin milked the game clock down to one minute, 19 seconds, the Badgers watched the Spartans drive 56 yards down the field in only eight plays, as Swenson’s leg sent the Badgers to their fifth loss in the last six games.“We really respect Coach Bielema, and obviously, he feels horrible about the penalty,” junior safety Chris Maragos said. “At the same time, we’re out on the field, and it should never come down to penalties. We need to do our job and make sure we’re holding our own.”Until the midway point in the fourth quarter, it looked like it was going to be the Badgers’ day. Wisconsin out-gained Michigan State on the ground (281 yards to 25), overall (430-312) and sacked Michigan State quarterback Brian Hoyer three times.More importantly, the Badgers jumped on the scoreboard first, as Dustin Sherer connected with Garrett Graham on a one-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter.After Michigan State drove twice inside the 30-yard line and settled for just two field goals, the Badgers, with just 1:49 on the clock before halftime, added some insurance.Running the two-minute offense efficiently, Sherer went 4-for-7, including a 36-yard pass to Nick Toon that set up a 31-yard Philip Welch’s field goal to give UW a 10-6 halftime lead.The Badgers padded their lead in the third quarter lead when P.J. Hill found the end zone for the first time in four weeks, running 10 yards through the left side to extend the lead to 11.The big lead was short lived, as the Spartans marched down the field in just one minute, 14 seconds, capping their drive when Ringer bullied his way through the Badger defense for the first of two two-yard touchdowns.The Badgers answered with Clay’s 32-yard touchdown rush to get the lead back to 11. But after Bielema’s penalty, it was all downhill.“It’s not something that is a real great thing to experience, the snowball effect going against you out on the field,” Newkirk said. “They beat us on the pass and knew what they had to deal. We forced them into a situation that we didn’t think they would want to be in, and they were still able to come through.”last_img

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *