Lee Evans entered Saturday’s game against North Carolina needing just three catches to surpass former Wisconsin wide receiver Al Toon on the all-time career receptions list. Evans, who already owned the yardage record coming into the season at 2,255 yards, wasted no time as he broke the 17-year catch record in the first quarter of the game.
Badger quarterback Jim Sorgi hit Evans three times in the first quarter, including the record breaker on a thirteen-yard reception.
“It’s so special,” Evans said. “All the hard work and effort I put into it. It’s great to be recognized for something that’s long standing.”
At the end of the day, the star wide receiver finished with five receptions for 80 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown reception giving him a total of 134 receptions in his career.
Entering the season, Evans needed 1,056 yards receiving to take the Big Ten conference crown for all-time receiving yards. As the Bedford, Ohio native continues to break records, the comeback gets sweeter and sweeter, and Saturday was just another example.
Badger miscues: Though the Badgers came away with a much-needed victory over the Tar Heels, the win did not come without its faults. The Badgers drove to the North Carolina six-yard line at the end of the first half and Jim Sorgi threw one of his two interceptions, halting the Wisconsin scoring drive and ending momentum as the Badgers retreated to the locker room.
Sorgi and running back Booker Stanley both fumbled on the day, but each recovered their own fumbles.
Along with the fumbles and interceptions came some mistakes in the special teams coverage.
North Carolina cornerback Michael Waddell returned the opening kick-off 97 yards to give the Tar Heels a 7-0 lead. Then, at the game’s conclusion, North Carolina backup quarterback C.J. Stephens heaved the ball into the end zone as time expired and wide receiver Jesse Holley caught the prayer for a touchdown.
“It’s still a concern because we do foolish things,” Barry Alvarez said. “The kickoffs, that’s just poor football and poor fundamentals. We just have to do a better job with that.”
The Badgers finished with five penalties for 45 yards and two turnovers. Special teams issues must be addressed as the Badgers gave up 246 yards on kick-off returns. Alvarez said starters must be put on special teams to correct the errors in coverage.
Injuries: Running back Dwayne Smith, who rushed for 75 yards on 15 carries, did not see much action in the second half of Saturday’s game due to a slightly strained groin. The plan was to alternate Booker Stanley and Smith, but when Smith went down, Stanley took over the rushing load.
Senior kicker Scott Campbell came up lame with an injury to his leg. The injury happened during the game’s opening kick-off, and with Campbell out, junior Mike Allen took over the kick-off responsibilities. Allen had been slated to take over Saturday’s field goal duties, irrespective of Campbell’s injury.
Starting cornerback Brett Bell did not play for the Badgers because of a shoulder injury that occurred during practice this week. It was Bell’s decision not to play due to the discomfort of the injury. Bell’s status is still unknown at this point.