Top 25: Freshman key in Wisconsin Badgers victory

By Tamira Madsen, The Sports Xchange  |  Sept. 9, 2017 at 10:10 PM
share with facebook
share with twitter

MADISON, Wis. -- Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor rushed for three touchdowns to pace No. 9 Wisconsin to a 31-14 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday in front of an announced crowd of 77,542 at Camp Randall Stadium.

Taylor, in his first career start for the Badgers, had 26 carries for 223 yards and one fumble. He replaced sophomore Bradrick Shaw, who suffered a right leg injury last week against Utah State.

Badgers sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook completed 16 of 28 passes for 201 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The Badgers (2-0) got on the scoreboard first on the second play of the second series as Taylor broke free from an Owls defender and slipped between two others for a 64-yard touchdown at the 10:00 mark of the first quarter.

It didn't take long for Taylor to find the end zone again. Freshman wide receiver Danny Davis was the catalyst on the drive with a 35-yard pass from Hornibrook that put Wisconsin on the Owls' 41-yard line. Two plays later, Taylor broke three tackles for a 29-yard TD run that gave Wisconsin a 14-0 lead with 6:40 to go in the first quarter.

Taylor surpassed his 87-yard, one-touchdown performance in Wisconsin's 51-19 win over Utah -- in the first half. He had 17 carries for 148 yards and two scores in the first half against Florida Atlantic.

The Owls (0-2) had a trio of three-and-out series to start, but it only took 31 seconds for them to score on their fourth and cut the Badgers lead to 14-7. After a short run, Florida Atlantic sophomore quarterback Daniel Parr connected with junior wide receiver DeAndre McNeal on a 63-yard TD pass with 3:09 to go in the first.

Hornibrook, who completed seven straight passes during a stretch between the first and second quarters, had a decent effort in the first half for the Badgers. He tossed a 12-yard TD pass to senior tight end Troy Fumagalli to extend Wisconsin's lead to 21-7 with 9:05 remaining in the second half.

The Owls' effort to trim Wisconsin's advantage in the second half fell short as a field-goal attempt was botched due to a bad snap.

Meanwhile, Hornibrook's second-quarter miscue occurred when he failed to see a defender. Hornibrook's pass was picked off by Owls sophomore defensive end Leighton McCarthy, who had a 15-yard interception return.

Florida Atlantic capitalized on the turnover and pulled closer at 21-14 on a 5-play, 27-yard scoring drive that was capped by a 1-yard TD by sophomore running back Devin Singletary with 4:29 left in the half.

Sophomore wide receiver Quintez Cephus provided an assist to stretch Wisconsin's margin on its final first-half scoring drive. On third-and-7, Cephus fought through contact to catch a 34-yard touchdown pass to get the Badgers to the 18-yard line. Junior kicker Rafael Gaglianone drilled a 20-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half to lift Wisconsin to a 24-14 lead.

The Owls couldn't take advantage of a third-quarter turnover by Taylor, who fumbled on the 36-yard line. Florida Atlantic junior cornerback Shelton Lewis forced the fumble and senior defensive back Raekwon Williams recovered the ball.

Parr completed 9 of 19 passes for 142 yards and one TD in the setback for Florida Atlantic. McNeal led the Owls in receiving with three catches for 103 yards, while Singletary paced the offense on the ground with 17 carries for 68 yards and 1 score.

Wisconsin's defense held the Owls to 248 overall yards, including 106 rushing yards. Penalties also hampered Florida Atlantic, which racked up eight for 73 yards.

Gaglianone missed a 37-yard field goal attempt for Wisconsin with 6:15 left, as the kick sailed wide to the left.

Junior running back Chris James also provided a boost to the Badgers' run game, contributing 16 carries for 101 yards.

NOTES: Wisconsin senior DE Chikwe Obasih suffered a knee injury in practice this week and didn't play on Saturday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the fifth-year senior sustained the injury on Wednesday. Obasih had started 31 consecutive games. ... With Hurricane Irma scheduled to bear down on Florida on Saturday and Sunday, Florida Atlantic officials secured a larger charter plane so family members of the football staff could travel to Madison, Wis. Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez said that athletic department officials would help ensure the Owls team's safety by helping pay for extra hotel nights and opening up university facilities to Florida Atlantic. The team won't leave until the storm has abated. ... Leading up to the game against Florida Atlantic, Badgers quarterbacks had gone seven straight games without throwing an interception. That stretch started on Nov. 5, 2016.

Related UPI Stories
Trending Stories