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Sunday, February 05, 2023
Marcus Trotter
Iowa running back Damon Bullock rushes with the ball in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, November 2, 2013. Bullock had a total of 39 yards receiving during the game. Wisconsin defeated Iowa, 29-9. (The Daily Iowan/Alyssa Hitchcock)

Football: Homeward the Heartland Trophy

Late turnovers doom Iowa at home as Badgers win 28-9

The Heartland Trophy is making its return trip back to Madison after No. 24 Wisconsin earned a gritty 28-9 victory at Iowa.

Aided by two costly Iowa turnovers, the Badgers wore out the Iowa defense and broke the game open early in the second half.

The game started off slowly as both teams boasted excellent defensive units that lived up to their hype, with the Badgers scoring just one touchdown and Iowa cashing in on two short field goal attempts in the first half.

Head coach Gary Andersen said following the game he was impressed with both teams’ defensive fronts.

“There will be some sore young men tonight and tomorrow when they wake up,” Andersen said. “We knew it would be tough minded young men in those defensive fronts.”

On the first drive of the game sophomore quarterback Joel Stave threw an interception, setting up the Hawkeyes with great field position that ignited the raucous Iowa crowd.

However, the Badgers defense held strong, forcing a punt.

Stave and the offense met a similar fate on the next posession and were forced to punt deep in their own territory.

“We didn’t have anything going [early], except we were playing pretty salty defense,” Andersen said. “We couldn’t run the ball an inch, couldn’t pass and our punt game was all over because of the wind.”

Sophomore punter Drew Meyer kicked short, giving Iowa the ball at the Badgers’ 39. Iowa would score the first of its two field goals from that mark.

A few drives later a third-and-seven from Iowa’s 44 set up a touchdown strike from Stave to senior tight end Jacob Pedersen over the middle, giving the Badgers a 7-6 lead heading into halftime.

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“A big turning point was when we were able to score on the last drive of the first half,” Andersen said. “We got more yards on that series of plays than we had the [rest] of the first half.”

With the game poised to be a close one, two key Iowa turnovers changed the game in the second half.

The first came midway through the third quarter after Meyer pinned the Hawkeyes at their own one yard line with a long punt. On the next play, Iowa sophomore quarterback Jake Rudock, with pressure in his face, threw an errant ball that ended up in the hands of Wisconsin sophomore defensive back Darius Hilary. Rudock was injured on the play.

It didn’t take long for Stave to throw a dart to redshirt senior Jared Abbrederis for a 20-yard touchdown and a 14-6 lead midway through the third quarter.

Abbrederis was shaken up after being hit on the play, but returned soon afterwords.

Hawkeye freshman quarterback C.J. Beathard, who came in for Rudock, threw a ball that hit one of his own offensive linemen and was intercepted by Badger senior defensive lineman Pat Muldoon.

Senior running back James White then put the game all but out of reach with an 11-yard touchdown, putting the Badgers up 21-9.

The next Badger possession saw White burst out to the right sideline for a 59-yard gain, setting the Badgers up inside the redzone.

A few plays later, White cashed in a dagger, finalizing the score at 28-9. While redshirt sophomore Melvin Gordon only recorded 62 rushing yards, his partner-in-crime White had a monster day, tallying 132 yards on the ground.

“It was tough sledding in there,” Andersen said. “[Gordon and White] just kept banging and playing in there and took the yards that came their way against a very stout and stiff defense.”

At the end of the fourth quarter the Badgers’ defense stalled Iowa out once again, capping another impressive performance by UW’s defensive front.

Junior linebacker Marcus Trotter filled in admirably for an injured Chris Borland, coming up with more than one big tackle and putting pressure on Beathard to force an interception.

“[Trotter] obviously lived in the moment,” Andersen said. “That doesn’t just happen in a week ... it takes time to get into that position.”

With their sixth victory of the season the Badgers’ clinched bowl eligibility. They will face BYU next week in Madison.

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