Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


UW’s sloppy play spells upset for UNLV

If the Wisconsin Badgers spirits weren’t dampened by the day long rain hanging over Camp Randall stadium, their performance against the visiting UNLV Running Rebels was no less than devastating.

Unable to muster any consistency on offense, the Badgers had as many turnovers as points in Saturday’s 23-5 loss to UNLV.

“They played real good today. They executed the defensive scheme that they had and they made the plays when they had to make the plays,” Brandon Williams said. “A lot of it was just us giving them the plays; they did their job and held us to no touchdowns and that’s all a defense can do … this was probably the worst game we’ve ever played as a team.”


After an impressive output of nearly 600 total yards of offense against Akron a week ago, the Badgers only mustered 187 yards and failed to score a touchdown at home for the first time since a 3-3 tie with Illinois in 1995.

The Wisconsin offense met its first obstacle when junior tailback Anthony Davis went down with an ankle injury on the Badgers’ second offensive series of the game. They already trailed 3-0 after a 26-yard field goal from UNLV kicker Dillon Pieffer, with 8:51 remaining in the first quarter.

Sophomore running back Dwayne Smith relieved Davis. Smith finished the day with 92 yards rushing and 48 yards receiving, but fumbled the ball twice, both times in UNLV territory.

The Badgers threatened to take the lead after Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi connected with Smith on a 37-yard roll out screen pass that gave the team a first and goal from the UNLV six-yard line.

But Smith dropped the ball on the ensuing rushing play, and the fumble was recovered by UNLV defensive end Chris Eagan.

Wisconsin was able to hold the Rebels to a three-and-out after the fumble, with the Badgers taking over at their own 50 yard line.

Smith fumbled for the second time on his next touch. UNLV’s standout strong safety Jamal Brimmer recovered the fumble, returning it 55 yards for a touchdown, giving the Rebels a 10-0 lead with 4:26 remaining in the first quarter.

The Badgers got a spark at the second quarter, after the defense had pinned UNLV back at its own 13 yard line, forcing a punt on third and long. Alex Lewis came through the Rebel line uncontested, getting a hand on the ball to block his second punt of the season.

The ball landed in the back of the end zone, too far for from Lewis for him to dive on it, and the ball trickled out of the end zone for a safety.

The Badgers started the next possession at the 50-yard line after the safety punt landed out of bounds.

Sorgi connected with Lee Evans for a 39-yard reception, one of only two catches on the day for the senior team captain, setting up a first down from the UNLV 11 yard line. After a one yard carry from tailback Booker Stanley, Jim Sorgi was put down with one of the eight sacks that tormented the quarterback on the day.

Scott Campbell converted a 27-yard field goal to pull the Badgers within five, but that’s all the offense the Badgers could muster.

Jim Sorgi was erratic at best, constantly overthrowing his receivers while having to deal with the continuous pressure from the UNLV defense.

Sorgi finished with 222 yards on 11-of-25 passing to go along with two costly interceptions and no touchdowns.

“We don’t lose any confidence in Jim. He’s our guy and we’ll stick by him,” junior guard Dan Buenning said. “He didn’t do too bad a job today. It was wet out, windy and guys weren’t focusing on the ball. You can’t put the blame on any one guy. It’s an overall thing.”

If Sorgi was inconsistent, UNLV quarterback Kurt Nantkes was serviceable, going 12-for-25 for 93 yards and two touchdowns.

Nantkes connected with wide receiver Earvin Johnson with 8:03 remaining in the first half on a six-yard touchdown pass over the head of cornerback Levonne Rowan, who got called up for his first career start in place of junior Scott Starks.

The drive was set up after a 36-yard interception return from Jamaal Brimmer to the Wisconsin 14-yard line. Sorgi overthrew a leaping Brandon Williams, who deflected the ball into the hands of the safety for his first career interception.

Pieffer missed the point after the Johnson touchdown, but the Rebels had an 11 point lead, 16-5 at the end of the half, and that would be more than enough.

Jim Sorgi delivered his second interception of the game on the Badgers’ first possession of the second half after Sorgi overthrew Jonathan Orr. Brimmer made the pick and returned it to the Wisconsin 24.

Three plays later, Nantkes delivered an 8-yard touchdown pass to Johnson on a slant route, again over Rowan.

The Badgers had one last chance to make the game competitive after junior defensive end Darius Jones forced a fumble on the UNLV 19 yard line with 14:46 remaining in the game. Senior linebacker Chris Catalano made the recovery, but the Badger offense wasn’t able to get the ball in for a score after Darrin Charles dropped a pass in the end zone on fourth and goal with 10:27 remaining in the game.

“We had opportunities to get back in it, and we didn’t take advantage of it,” offensive coordinator Brian White said. “We didn’t resemble a team that plays college football at all today.”

“I’m just very frustrated, looking at our offense with some of the weapons we have, even when we lose Anthony, and not to be effective,” Barry Alvarez said. “We’ll really have to tear that apart. But I think our kids have character and I think we have good leadership … You never like to lose, and you particularly don’t like to play poorly, and we did on offense, but there’s a lot of season left.”

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