Headline: Badgers Far From Perfect in Victory over Northern Illinois Game MVP: Brooks Bollinger- 2 yard TD with 1:22 in game Offensive Player of the Game: Northern Illinois-Michael Turner= 34 carries 160 yards=2 TD's
The Wisconsin Badgers went into Saturday's game against Northern Illinois heavily favoried by 22 points. Needless to say,they played very poor, and escaped with a narrow victory of 24-21. For awhile it appeared that Wisconsin would be embarrassed with a loss on its home field. But thanks to Brooks Bollinger and a late fourth quarter rally the Badgers emerged with the victory and find themselves at 4-0.
The Badger offense struggled on their first two possessions of the day, and both drives resulted in punts.
Northern Illinois put the first points for the day on the board with their second possession. The drive started at the 20. The big play on the drive happened when quarterback Josh Haldi passed to T.J.Fleck for a gain of 32 yards. Michael Turner followed with runs of 9 and 7 yards to keep the drive maintained. Northern Illinois got down as far as the ten, before the drive stalled out. Steve Azar came in a kicked a 34 yard field goal to give the Huskies a 3-0 lead.
On the Badgers next drive, Bollinger gained 23 yards on an option run. Three plays later he was SACKED for the first of TEN times on the day, and the drive ended in a punt. NIU, also failed to gain yardage on their next drive, and had a 42 yard pass play wiped out with a face mask penalty. As the first quarter closed out, Wisconsin had the ball, but on first down Bollinger was SACKED for a ten yard loss.
As the drive consinued into the second quarter, Bollinger passed to Braun for a 24 yard gain on third and 17. But he was later Sacked, forcing another punt. A pair of turnovers by both teams hihlighted the next drive.First,Dan Sheldon fumbled at the five, and B.J.Tucker recoverd for the Badgers. Then on first down, Bollinger attempted a deep pass,which was intercepted by Randee Drew. NIU took over at the 49. On a third and ten, Haldi hit Sam Hurd for a 19 yard gain down to the 32. Three plays later, RYAN AIELLO sacked Haldi, who then fumbled and the Badgers recovered at the 42. On first down, Brandon Williams ran for a gain of 16 down to the 42. A few plays later, Bollinger passed to Jonathan Orr for a gain of 22 down to the 9. Three plays later on third and goal from the 1, Bollinger ran in from the left for the touchdown. Campbell added the extra point and it was now 7-3. NIU stormed back on their next drive. After having moved down field fairly well, they elected to kick a field goal on fourth and 1 from the 21.It was good, making the score 7-6.
Wisconsin charged right back, before the half ended. Starting at the 40, Bollinger hit Docherty for a gain of 18, then Jerome Pettus for a gain of 17 down to the 12. Eventually Campbell came in and kicked a 28 yard field goal as time expired in the first half with the Badgers now leading 10-6.
Northern Illinois struck right back to open the second half. On the first drive, Turner gained 16 yards. He then had runs of 12 and 9 yards. Very quickly the Huskies were down to the 25. The drive stalled out at the 18. Azar came in to kick a 35 yard field goal, and make the score 10-9. The Badgers next drive started out promising, but ended when Bollinger was SACKED. An interception by JIM LEONARD on NIU's next drive, helped to set up the Badger's next score. Taking over at the 18, Davis ran for 8 yards down to the 10. Two plays later, Davis ran it for the score, and with the p.a.t. it was 17-9.
NIU 's next scoring drive started at the 21 late in the third quarter. Haldi passed to Sheldon for a gain of 34 yards. Eventually the Huskies got down to the 9, where on first down, Haldi hit Brad Cieslak for a gain of 7 down to the 3, as the quarter ended.
The first play of the fourth quarter, saw Michael Turner score the tochdown from the 3. NIU elected to go a two point conversion. It failed. But, NIU now only trailed by two at 17-15. Neither team moved the ball for their next possessions and just traded punts. NIU later scored on a long 90 yard drive, whic at the time appeared to have totally defeated the Badgers. The big back breaker on the drive, was when Haldi passed to Sam Hurd for a gain of 59 yards down to the 22. Turner then gained 12 and 7 yards on successive carries, giving the Huskies a first and goal at the 1. Turner then scored his second touchdow of the game. The Huskies elected to go for two again on the conversion, but it too failed, only now NIU had a 21-17 lead with not much time remaining. The Badgers next drive stared at the 29.It started gooda as Brandon Williams caught a pass to gain 13 yards, and Davis ran for 22 yards, getting Wiisconsin down to the 36. But Bollinger was then SACKED two times in a row resulting in a punt. The Badger defense held strong, forcing NIU to punt right back. The Badgers took over in great field position at the 50. Bollinger hit Braun for a gain of 8. He then ran for an 8 yard gain. Next he was sacked for a loss, but on the play, NIU was called for pass interference, giving the Badgers a first down at the 32. Bollinger then passed to Braun again for a gain of 18. NIU was again called for pass interference, which now gave Wisconsin a first and goal at the 2. Bollinger wasted no time, as he ran it in on the next pla for the touchdown. Campbell added the p.a.t. and it was 24-21 with 1:21 remaining. From that point, the Badger defense STOPPED any NIU threat, and the Badgers escaped with a 24-21 victory.
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