Sunday, October 12, 2003

No. 23 Wisconsin 17, No. 3 Ohio St. 10

By Arnie Stapleton
The Associated Press

Wisconsin's Lee Evans breaks away for the game-winning 79-yard touchdown reception Saturday.
(AP photo)
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MADISON, Wis. - Lee Evans was in danger of being shut out by Chris Gamble's blanket coverage and linebacker Robert Reynolds' dirty play that sidelined Wisconsin's starting quarterback.

"We felt they wouldn't expect the deep throw. We thought it was the right time to do it," Evans said of his 79-yard touchdown reception from backup Matt Schabert with 5:20 left that gave the 23rd-ranked Badgers a 17-10 victory over No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday night.

Thus ended the defending national champions' 19-game winning streak.

"It's a feeling that nobody likes," said Buckeyes quarterback Craig Krenzel, who lost to just the second time in 20 career starts. "At the same time it's a feeling that you have to forget. We'll find out a lot about our character this week."

The Buckeyes had just tied it on Michael Jenkins' 6-yard catch from Krenzel with 6:09 remaining.

Evans, the Big Ten's leading receiver, had been shut down by Gamble, the country's best cornerback, so well all night that he hadn't had a single pass thrown his way.

But on second-and-9 from the 21, Evans beat Gamble and safety Will Allen was slow getting over. Schabert hit Evans in stride at the Ohio State 48 and Evans raced into the end zone.

"Our main emphasis was to stop the run. We felt overall we accomplished our goal," defensive end Will Smith said. "And they beat us with a big pass. That's disheartening."

Booker Stanley carried 31 times for 125 yards, including a 24-yard run that sealed it in the closing minute after Schabert's 6-yard bootleg on third-and-2 off a great fake to Stanley.

When the game ended, many in the crowd of 79,793 spilled onto the field to celebrate, led by a streaker who got a jump on the partying by racing across the field with a minute left.

"To end the nation's longest winning streak and stay undefeated in the Big Ten, this is one of my most gratifying wins," Badgers coach Barry Alvarez said.

The Badgers improved to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes fell to 5-1 and 1-1.

Schabert, a junior who had just two touchdowns tosses in his career, was in because starter Jim Sorgi was injured when Reynolds shoved his fingers into his throat in the third quarter.

Until Evans' touchdown, it appeared the Buckeyes might do what had become their hallmark: eke out a win in the fourth quarter.

Ten of their 19 wins during the streak were by a touchdown or less, including last year's 19-14 win in Madison when Gamble made an interception in the end zone to seal it.

Sorgi's injury made it difficult for him to swallow and impossible for him to call out plays, so Alvarez had no choice but to send in Schabert.

"He's got a neck injury and was having a hard time breathing," Alvarez said. "He can't talk."

His teammates had plenty to say - or tried to.

"Everybody kind of went off. That's something you just don't do," Evans said. "Ohio State is a great program and for them to come out and do that to our quarterback, ... that's one of the lowest things I've ever seen in a football game ..."

Just then, Alvarez cut him off and said his team wouldn't discuss the play.

"You saw the film," Alvarez told reporters.

Badgers center Donovan Raiola yelled across the field after the play.

"If they want to do that, I don't really care who they are," Raiola said. "After that, I lost all respect for (all) of them."

Reynolds wasn't made available to reporters after the game and Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he didn't see the play.

"I only saw a pileup," he said.

The officials didn't see Reynolds shoving his fingers into a prone Sorgi after his third-down scramble with just over five minutes left, either. But several of his teammates did and they got into a scrum with Reynolds.

No flags were thrown, and after Sorgi went out, Mike Allen kicked a 38-yard field goal to make it 10-3 with 5:09 left in the third quarter.

The Buckeyes, who hadn't lost since Jan. 1, 2002, when South Carolina beat them 31-28 in the Outback Bowl, hadn't moved the ball well all night.

But Krenzel, who returned from a hyperextended right elbow that had kept him out of two games, drove Ohio State 75 yards in seven plays for the tying touchdown, which Drew Carter set up with a diving 46-yard grab at the Badgers 6.

Stanley is just the second running back to crack 100 yards during the Buckeyes' winning streak - Wisconsin's Anthony Davis had 144 yards in a 19-14 loss to Ohio State last year.

The Buckeyes continued to struggle running the ball following the suspension of Maurice Clarett. Lydell Ross gained 28 yards on seven carries and Maurice Hall ran six times for 17 yards.

Stanley scored on a 2-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to break a scoreless tie, and Wisconsin led 7-3 at halftime.

Both teams turned muffed punts into field goals.

Allen's 38-yarder came after Gamble's muff and Mike Nugent's 24-yarder with four minutes left in the first half followed Jim Leonhard's muff at his own 19.

Stanley scored from 2 yards out on the first play of the second quarter.

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