One yard heartbreak: Northwestern tops Wisconsin 13-7 on Senior Day

first_imgMan oh man…… 4 steps + Knee down.. Possessed & secured tight.. No bobble.. BUT. Reversed???? pic.twitter.com/IOBk9AzmQF— Jazzy (@JazzPeavy) November 22, 2015UW (8-3, 4-2 Big Ten) had two more chances. Stave dropped back again, but the Northwestern front seven, which had pressured him all game, got in his face once again. Stave was sacked for a loss of 10 yards and was shaken up badly. Clearly disoriented, he wandered in the backfield for a moment too long, and it looked like the clock would run out.Running back Dare Ogunbowale made the heads up play to spike the ball with six seconds remaining. Stave left the game. Backup quarterback Bart Houston entered. Senior wide receiver/safety Tanner McEvoy was open on a slant route in the end zone, but couldn’t corral Houston’s low throw.The scoreboard showed two seconds left, but the game was over. A game which the Badgers assumed they had won three times was a loss.The first case of misfortune came in the third quarter, when senior wide receiver Alex Erickson streaked down the center of the field and returned a bouncing Northwestern punt 74 yards for a touchdown to put Wisconsin up 13-10.The celebration would not last long.The refs deemed that when Erickson waved off his teammates from touching the ball, he was signaling for a fair catch. Therefore, the ball was downed at the Wisconsin 22-yard line. It started the cruel trend of retraction that would eventually cause heartache and frustration.Regardless of Wisconsin’s turnovers — two brutal interceptions from Stave, who also lost a fumble, a muffed punt by Erickson and a fumble by McEvoy — and it’s stagnant offense (the Badgers finished with -26 rushing yards), UW was still very much in the game.“We did not play well offensively, but I give them credit for continuing to play and give us a chance at the end,” UW head coach Paul Chryst said.Getting off to a slow start on Senior Day has plagued Wisconsin for three consecutive years now. Against Penn State in 2013, UW allowed a touchdown less than two minutes into the game. Last season against Minnesota, Wisconsin trailed 17-3 in the first half before coming back to win 34-24.There was no comeback this time, and the slow start devolved into a game-long struggle.Northwestern’s defensive front had its way with the Wisconsin offensive line all day. Stave was sacked six times, with four of those instances coming in the first half.“Going into it we knew that was going to be one of the challenges and we didn’t rise up to that,” Chryst said.Whenever Northwestern took over in UW territory, which it did six times Saturday, the top-ranked scoring defense (points allowed) in the nation stepped up.Tanner McEvoy finished with a career-high five receptions for 57 yards and made two tackles at safety. Jason Chan/The Badger HeraldIt was a career day for many guys on the defensive unit. Vince Biegel (14), Joe Schobert (13), Jack Cichy (11), Alec James (seven), Chikwe Obasih (seven) and Conor Sheehy (five) all either tied or set career highs in tackles.The loss, senior safety Michael Caputo said, was a tough one to handle.“It hurts for a lot of guys,” Caputo said. “It shows how emotionally invested this team was and we left it all on the field. We went down fighting. It just didn’t go our way.”The Badgers allowed 209 yards (just 62 in the second half) of total offense and let only Northwestern sophomore running back Justin Jackson (139 yards on 35 carries, one touchdown) beat them.It also helped Northwestern only converted on two of its four field goal chances. Kicker Jack Mitchell missed on attempts from 27 and 35 yards out to keep it a one possession game.The only significant offense UW exhibited before the final drive was a five-play sequence that began with 10:41 left in the third quarter. On a 2nd-and-9 from the UW 36, Stave hit Peavy on two consecutive receptions for a combined 58 yards, with catches of 16 and 42 yards, respectively.Two plays later, Corey Clement, whose status for the game was questionable as he recovers from sports hernia surgery, stiff-armed a Northwestern defender near the goal line for his fourth touchdown of the season and UW only trailed by a field goal after Clement’s nine-yard run.Clement, a junior, rushed 10 times for 34 yards, but said he could’ve played more snaps. He added that the loss coming on Senior Day, was especially painful.“It sucks. After the game everyone and our seniors were just down,” Clement said. “Everyone wants to do their best and I want them to leave with the best memory possible so that you can look back on it … It sucks basically, I felt as if we won three times.”The final drive for Wisconsin started at its own 26-yard line with 1:47 remaining in the game. After an incompletion, Stave completed four of his next five passes to take Wisconsin to the Northwestern 23.Then, Stave hit tight end Troy Fumagalli over the middle for what was orignially called a touchdown, but the replays clearly showed Fumagalli’s knee down at the one-yard line. UW would have three chances (not counting the spike) to find the end zone, but came up short.The Badgers needed seven at the end of the game largely due to Stave’s final turnover, which came in the final eight minutes and proved to be his most costly. He made a terrible read on a throw across the middle deep in his own territory, and the Wildcats’ Anthony Walker intercepted it and Northwestern was in business at the Wisconsin 20-yard line.Mitchell pushed a 37-yard field goal through the uprights and Northwestern went up 13-7, which would hold as the final score.Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald empathized with his opposition.“I’ve been on the other side of those games and I feel for those kids from Wisconsin because that’s a tough way to end up on the short end,” he said.The “short end” is a lot tougher to handle when it means only one yard away. In a matter of seconds, the Wisconsin football team’s emotions went from jubilation to devastation, from euphoria to despair and ultimately, from the tantalizing feeling of winning to the reality of losing.And it happened three times.For the better part of the first 58 minutes of Saturday’s 13-7 loss to Northwestern (9-2, 4-2 Big Ten) on Senior Day at Camp Randall Stadium, the Wisconsin offense was abysmal. It had committed five turnovers. None of that mattered, though.Senior quarterback Joel Stave led his team to the brink of victory disguised as the one-yard line. Stave took the shotgun snap and rolled out of the pocket to his right. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jazz Peavy, who finished with career-highs in receptions (five) and receiving yards (88), created separation in the corner of the end zone.The ball struck him in the chest and his arms enveloped the ball. One, two, three feet hit the ground. The referee signaled touchdown and the party was on.But then came the review, which determined Peavy bobbled the ball and didn’t complete the process of a catch.“The whole time I knew that was a catch,” Peavy would say after the game.This was the Wisconsin TD that was overturned pic.twitter.com/5sAA7qzj9W— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) November 21, 2015last_img

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