Nov 22, 2003
By ARNIE STAPLETON
AP Sports Writer
MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Iowa Hawkeyes knew they wanted their dominant defense and not their ordinary offense on the field at the end. Still, some of them couldn’t bear to watch the final play.
“I just closed my eyes and listened,” running back Fred Russell said.
He heard nearly 80,000 fans moan when free safety Sean Considine broke up John Stocco’s pass in the end zone with no time left to preserve No. 17 Iowa’s 27-21 victory over Wisconsin on Saturday.
“You’ve got to believe in our defense,” Russell said. “They carried us all season.”
Considine, whose interception of Matt Schabert’s pass in the third quarter led to the Hawkeyes’ go-ahead score, batted down Stocco’s throw intended for Jonathan Orr on fourth-and-goal from the 4.
“We didn’t want it any other way,” Considine said. “It was up to us. It was a test of character.”
The Hawkeyes (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten) overcame three first-half turnovers and an early 14-point deficit to thwart the Badgers’ long-shot bid for a New Year’s Day bowl berth.
The Badgers (7-5, 4-4) were playing great until starting quarterback Jim Sorgi was knocked out of the game with a head injury in the second quarter. Schabert threw three interceptions, all of which led to Iowa scores, before being benched.
Jovon Johnson got the first interception and the Hawkeyes converted it into a touchdown that made it 21-14 when Nathan Chandler, who was just 8-of-26 for 66 yards, found Ramon Ochoa from 6 yards out.
Nate Kaeding’s 50-yard field goal with 11 seconds left cut Wisconsin’s lead to 21-17 at halftime.
In the third quarter, Considine intercepted Schabert’s pass at the Wisconsin 25 and returned it to the 1. Russell ran it in from there to put Iowa on top 24-21.
Three plays later, Schabert again threw an ill-advised jumpball and this time safety Bob Sanders grabbed it, leading to Kaeding’s 28-yard field goal.
Wisconsin got the ball at the Iowa 48 with 3:38 left and drove to the 10. Dwayne Smith rushed for 4 yards and Stocco gained another on a quarterback draw, bringing up third-and-goal from the 5.
After using the last timeout with 21 seconds left, Johnson wrapped up Smith after a 1-yard reception and the Badgers hustled back to the line and snapped the ball just as time expired.
“I couldn’t imagine they got the play off,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I thought we were in good shape when we tackled Smith inbounds. I thought the game was over. But they got the play off. I think it was legal. That was amazing.”
Fred Russell runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the second half.
The Hawkeyes went from yelling that the clock had already expired to rushing the field to celebrate their first Big Ten road win.
“That was a very difficult loss,” said Badgers coach Barry Alvarez, who failed to win his 100th career game. “We just turned it over too many times in the second half.”
Alvarez praised Stocco and his defense.
“But it’s hard when you give the other team the ball,” he said.
His teammates insisted Schabert shouldn’t feel as though he let them down. After all, he threw the game-winning, 79-yard touchdown pass in the closing minutes to end defending national champion Ohio State’s 19-game winning streak last month.
“Matt’s done a great job this year,” linebacker Kyle McCorison said. “He’s had some great games. We just fell short, that’s all.”
Anthony Davis, who has missed most of the season with ankle injuries, scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards and set up Smith’s 1-yard TD run by gaining 30 yards on a fourth-down screen pass from Schabert.
Sorgi, who had thrown for 685 yards and nine touchdowns in his previous two games – the best two-game stretch in school history, was hurt when he was hit by defensive end Tyler Luebke after delivering a pass.
“I was confident he would have a good ball game,” Alvarez said. “We hated to lose him.”
The pain lessened after Stocco entered the game.
The redshirt freshman who had thrown just one pass all season, completed 5-of-9 passes for 84 yards, including a 49-yarder to Evans.
“I was shocked. He was incredibly poised to step into that type of environment in a big game and he ran the offense really well,” Evans said. “I was proud of him.”
And he was pleased with the Badgers’ gutsy effort, too.
“We couldn’t ask for much more,” Evans said. “We were in position to win the game. Just one more play at the end would have done it. But we just came up a little short.”