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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Sunday, May 19, 2024
Wisconsin Football vs Rutgers

Badgers football beats Rutgers in homecoming game

Wisconsin notched a win against Rutgers in a defensive slugfest to improve to 4-1.

The Wisconsin Badgers faced off against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a defensive battle at Camp Randall Stadium. Riccardo Hallman’s 95-yard interception return secured a 24-13 win for the Badgers.

Rutgers won the toss, and Wisconsin received the ball to start the game. Their first drive proved solid as they drove into Rutgers territory, utilizing a balancing act of rushing with Braelon Allen and passing with Tanner Mordecai. However, three straight incompletions stalled the drive, and the Badgers settled for a field goal from Nathaniel Vakos.

Neither team scored for the remainder of the first quarter. While the Badgers' running game remained somewhat consistent, their passing game struggled with Mordecai's consistency faltering throughout the game. On Rutgers' side, their running game was nonexistent, and the passing game failed to materialize despite Wisconsin's previous struggles with their secondary this season. 

During this scoreless stretch, Wisconsin encountered some setbacks, including a missed field goal and Braelon Allen leaving the field due to a potential leg injury. With both Allen and Chez Mellusi injured, sophomore Jackson Acker stepped in and led an impressive drive, advancing the Badgers into Rutgers' red zone. However, when Allen returned, he fumbled the ball on Rutgers' 4-yard line.

After Rutgers posted a 3-and-out, Allen responded. Mordecai connected with Will Pauling multiple times, advancing the Badgers to the Rutgers 18-yard line. Allen then rushed for an 18-yard touchdown, giving the Badgers a 10-point lead.

Rutgers needed to bounce back, and they did just that. Their next drive was their best so far, marked by a couple of impressive catches by JaQuae Jackson and a 21-yard run by Gavin Wimsatt, which took them to the 4-yard line. However, the Badgers' defense stopped their first-and-goal attempt. On second-and-goal, Hallman intercepted a pass from Wimsatt and returned the ball 95 yards for a touchdown, extending the Badgers' lead to 17 points at halftime.

Both teams struggled to ignite their offenses in the third and much of the fourth quarter. The half began with both teams punting, and Wisconsin followed by turning the ball over on fourth down in Rutgers territory.

Rutgers took this opportunity to mount their own drive. They displayed impressive composure, converting on multiple third and fourth downs even as Wimsatt was injured and taken to the tent for concussion protocol. Their determination paid off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Young on a critical 3rd-and-6 play, bringing them back within an 11-point margin after a failed PAT by Jai Patel.

Wisconsin responded by sealing the game with an impressive five-minute-and-36-second drive over 15 plays. Mordecai showcased his run ability, picking up multiple first downs running the ball and topping the drive off with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Tucker Ashcraft.

From there, the fourth quarter saw more turnovers as Rutgers failed to convert on 4th down. In response, Wisconsin fumbled the ball at their own 21-yard line. Rutgers managed to score again with just five minutes left in the game, narrowing the lead to nine points, but it was too late for the Scarlet Knights. Wisconsin ran out the clock to secure a 24-13 victory.

In true Wisconsin fashion, the Badgers dominated on the ground. Allen finished the game with 101 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Acker made an impressive debut with 65 yards. Even Mordecai contributed with 50 rushing yards. However, Mordecai struggled in the passing department, completing just 17 out of 31 attempts for 145 yards and one touchdown. 

Wimsatt's performance for Rutgers wasn't much better, going 16 for 35 with 181 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Ricardo Hallman now shares the lead for the most interceptions in the NCAA this season after his pick off of Wimsatt.

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The Badgers are set to face Iowa next weekend, promising an exciting matchup as both teams are projected to contend for the Big Ten West title.

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