Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


One ‘Hill of a game’ for Wisconsin back

[media-credit name=’BEN CLASSON/Herald photo’ align=’alignright’ width=’336′]PJ_Hill_BC[/media-credit]The nation's longest win streak remains intact, but the results weren't pretty.

Wisconsin extended its winning streak to 12 games to move to 3-0, yet it wasn't of the 45-0 variety head coach Bret Bielema said some expected. Instead, the defense continued to struggle early on, and Wisconsin settled for a 45-31 win.

"Too many times we think we are a good defense when we're really not," cornerback Allen Langford said.


Despite never trailing in the game, UW let a championship subdivision 1-AA team hang around. The Citadel Bulldogs matched Wisconsin strike for strike to keep the game tied 21-21 heading into the break.

"Early in the games … we have to go in there and make the adjustments," Bielema said. "We haven't been able to do those things; there's a couple of times where guys should be closing and just falling off and making a play but weren't able to.

"It's troubling as a coach because you don't want to go into halftime with [your opponent having put] 21 points on the board."

The Badgers needed an inspired third quarter to put the game away.

"We knew heading into the locker room a lot of that stuff needed to be corrected, otherwise we were going to be the next Michigan against Appalachian State," Langford said. "Once we got those things corrected and got the momentum, we were OK."

On the first play of the third quarter, running back P.J. Hill picked up where he left off in the first half when he collected 96 yards and three scores. He found the hole and burst through it for a 26-yard gain. The Badgers, who seemed on a mission after playing to a 21-21 tie at halftime, drove 81 yards and took the lead for good.

"I tell the guys every time we huddle, 'You guys do your job, and just let me go to work,'" Hill said. "I told [the offensive line], 'Just be mean, you have to want it more, you have to dominate that guy in front of you,' and they took it to heart and did just that."

An awful first two quarters of play during which The Citadel quarterback Duran Lawson completed 13 of 16 passes for 140 yards and three touchdowns left the defense needing something to elevate its game. Backup safety Jay Valai's hit on kickoff coverage did the trick.

"I believe it all started with Jay Valai," safety Aubrey Pleasant said. "He did a wonderful job on the kickoff."

On the Bulldogs' first play of the third quarter, an untouched blitzing Pleasant sacked Lawson for a 9-yard loss. Wisconsin got pressure on Lawson again, inducing him into rush a throw that safety Shane Carter made an athletic play to intercept.

"It was an unbelievable pick," Bielema said.

The third quarter ended with some impressive statistics. Wisconsin dominated the time of possession by holding the ball for 12:43, and after allowing 245 yards in the first half, the Badgers defense held the Bulldogs to minus-3 yards in the third frame.

"The coaches saw some weaknesses in their offense … and we just came out with a little intensity, a little aggression," Pleasant said.

Before a large collection of red in the stands, the game began on a strong note for the home team.

Freshman David Gilreath brought a 46-yard punt back 34 yards to set up the Badgers at the Bulldogs' 42. Four plays later, Wisconsin was up 7-0.

After two completions to freshman Kyle Jefferson, including a spectacular one-handed grab, and an incomplete pass, quarterback Tyler Donovan handed the ball off to P.J. Hill, who, behind a gaping hole created by the offensive line, raced 22 yards into the end zone before the defense could react.

"The offensive line did a really great job of opening holes for him," wide receiver Luke Swan said. "It seemed like he was on the edge and had a whole bunch of room to run."

The Citadel responded with a touchdown-scoring drive of its own. The Bulldogs set up camp from their own 28, but just two plays later — a 17-yard pass completion to Andre Roberts and a 25-yard double reverse by receiver Ta'Mar Jernigan — they were within striking distance. The drive appeared to have stalled on Wisconsin's 23 yard line after a third down pass fell incomplete, but freshman corner Aaron Henry was called for defensive holding to give The Citadel new life.

It took full advantage as quarterback Duran Lawson connected with tight end Tim Higgins from 10 yards out to knot the score at 7-7. The touchdown pass was one of four on the day, each to a different receiver, for the senior signal caller.

Early in the second quarter UW drove to the Bulldogs' 12 yard line before getting stopped on second- and third-and-short. Bielema elected to go for it on fourth-and-two, and instead of running the ball the traditional way — straight up the gut — Donovan ran the wide receiver reverse to Gilreath who picked up the first down, thanks in large part to a fantastic block by Hill. It was only fitting that the running back scored for his efforts on the following play.

"To have someone as productive as P.J. only elevates our offense," Donovan said. "We take advantage of him in different situations. … He's a playmaker … you want the ball in his hands."

A late hit penalty by linebacker Jonathan Casillas tacked 15 yards on to a short gain by Roberts, giving The Citadel good field position on its next drive. From there, it was able to move the chains with ease and re-tie the score at 14-14.

Both teams scored again toward the end of the half; Wisconsin on a 1-yard run by Hill — set up by his 40-yard run on the play before — and The Citadel on a broken coverage play over the middle to running back Tory Cooper.

Hill finished the game with a career-high five touchdowns, including one through the air, and 188 total yards. Donovan eclipsed 200 passing yards and moved to 5-0 as a starter, and Travis Beckum caught his first touchdown of the season, a 25-yarder early in the fourth quarter.

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