Subscribe to Fourth Estate Watch our YouTube Channel Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook

Late blunder costs Badgers in Tempe

badgers

Richard Hurd/Flickr

Known for wearing red, Badgers fans were seeing red after the call on Joel Stave’s play in the game against Arizona.

Jacob Westendorf, Sports Writer Commentary
September 19, 2013
Filed under Sports

After an inspiring start to the season, the Gary Anderson era took an odd twist Saturday night, in Tempe, Ariz., leaving the Wisconsin Badgers football team angry and confused.

Arizona State was the first real test for the Badgers this season after they rung up convincing wins over Tennessee Tech and the University of Massachusetts. It was a game on the road that was supposed to be the final preparation for Wisconsin before beginning conference play against Purdue.

The game started off well for the Badgers. Following a Sun Devils field goal, the Badgers moved right down the field and Joel Stave threw a touchdown pass to Jacob Pedersen.

After the touchdown drive, the defense stopped Arizona State’s high-powered offense on three plays, forcing them to punt. However, this was a disaster as the punter fumbled, and the ball bounced all the way back to the goal line. It was recovered by Beau Allen in the end zone, giving the Badgers a touchdown and a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter.

All signs were pointing toward another Badgers victory.

The Sun Devils answered with 10 points before the half, making it 14-13 when the two teams went into the locker room.

The second half began promising for the Badgers, as breakout star Melvin Gordon continued to announce his name to the national media by bursting for an 80-yard touchdown run, giving the Badgers more to be excited about for their running game.

Gordon was by far the most effective running back against the Sun Devils, rushing for 193 yards and two touchdowns.

After a big week against Tennessee Tech, however, James White struggled against the Sun Devils, gaining just 45 yards on 12 carries.

Despite some of their early struggles, the Badgers led 21-19 going into the fourth quarter after Marion Grice added a touchdown for the Sun Devils.

The Badgers answered the Sun Devils touchdown with a field goal of their own, but unfortunately, the defense was drained when they took the field again in the dry Arizona heat.

Early in the fourth quarter, Arizona State had already run more than 80 plays, forcing the defense to remain on the field for a long time.

Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly punished the Badgers with back-shoulder passes, and Marion Grice was effective running the ball.

For the first time all season, the Badgers lost the time of possession battle, as Arizona State had the ball for 32 to game’s 60 minutes.

Grice added two more touchdown runs to give Arizona State a 32-24 lead late in the fourth quarter.

All hope seemed lost, as the Badgers offense had gone anemic in the fourth quarter.

The Badgers had an answer though–with a little bit of guts involved. Quarterback Joel Stave struggled most of the night, completing only 50 percent of his passes, but he made several big throws on the Badgers’ final scoring possession and was aided by a fake punt call toward the middle of the field.

The Badgers’ drive ended in another Gordon touchdown, but they didn’t convert the two-point conversion. The defense would have to make one more stop.

Due to some odd play-calling by the Sun Devils, and gritty play by the Badgers defense, a stop was made, giving the Badgers the ball with just less than two minutes to play needing only a field goal to win the game.

The Badgers were up to the task and moved the ball down the field quickly, highlighted by a back-shoulder throw from Stave to wide receiver Jeff Duckworth.

After a replay challenge ruled  Duckworth stayed in-bounds, the Badgers ran two quick plays, gained another first down and had the ball in position to win the game with 18 seconds left.

Then things got weird.

Stave took the snap from the center and rolled left to get the ball in the middle of the field to make the game-winning field goal attempt easier.

Stave gave himself up, took a knee, put the ball on the ground, and mass confusion ensued.

Arizona State defensive players thought Stave had not put his knee on the ground and laid on the ball, which should have been a defensive delay of game penalty.

With no timeouts, the Badgers had to spike the ball to stop the clock. The official stood over the ball, would not allow the Badgers to take another snap and time ultimately expired, leaving the Badgers and whole state of Wisconsin dazed and enraged.

The game ended with the Badgers searching for answers and wondering how this could have happened. Unfortunately for Gary Andersen, this will go down as his first loss as the Badgers’ head coach, and there is no rest for the weary as the Badgers begin conference play Saturday, Sept. 21 against Purdue.