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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Jay Valai came into the game angry. He took it out on Hoosier quarterback Ben Chappell.
Chappell ran down the middle of the Badger defense for an 11-yard again with UW leading 21-20, but a big hit from Valai jarred the ball loose at the 4-yard line, where it was picked up by linebacker DeAndre Levy. The turnover proved to be a turning point in the game.
“We’re 4-5,” Valai said. “Just got to use that aggression on the football field somehow.”
Valai’s hit on Chappell after a David Gilreath fumble put the Badgers in a position to extend their lead at the break instead of going into halftime trailing the Hoosiers.
“I was just angry,” Valai said, “I saw the quarterback running … and I tried to hit him as hard as I could.”
“I just saw him drop and I saw the lineman not drop back for pass coverage really, so I just said ‘Hey, he’s gonna run.'”
The hit was enough to knock Chappell out of the game.
Wisconsin returner Gilreath had let a punt go threw his hands, which gave Indiana good field position.
“They saved my life out there,” Gilreath said. “I made a big mistake there and it could have cost us big.”
“It was real big. It sparked us as a defense,” Levy said. “One thing we’re good at is being physical. If we’re not physical, we’re not good.”
Levy returned the ball 45 yards to the Wisconsin 49-yard line.
The play carried over into the second half as well.
“Jay Valai sparked us big with a big hit, and we carried that energy and momentum over to the second half,” Levy said.
It was part of a big game for Valai, who finished with a team-high 10 tackles.
“Just want to play physical and aggressive … come with it every time, make them respect you somehow.”
Badgers suffer two injuries
On Wisconsin’s second play from scrimmage, right tackle Eric Vanden Huevel went down with a lower right leg injury and did not return to the game.
“He didn’t feel or hear a pop,” Bielema said. “The initial X-rays were negative, but he wasn’t going to be able to return. The initial report was negative fracture-wise.”
The senior was replaced by freshman Josh Oglesby, who has come in for several injured Badgers this season.
“It’s a lot easier,” Oglesby said of having experience. “When I first came out, I was concerned about [Vanden Huevel], but then it was ‘I’ve been here before, no need to be nervous.'”
With Oglesby playing in place of the starter, the offense still managed to rush for 441 yards.
“[Vanden Huevel] is a big part of our line,” center John Moffitt said, “but Josh did a great job stepping in.”
Middle linebacker Jaevery McFadden left the game with just over four minutes remaining in the half with a head injury and did not return. Culmer St. Jean took his place on defense for the Badgers.
“Jaevery was concussed,” Bielema said. “I thought there was going to be a chance he would come back, but midway through the third quarter the trainers came up to me and said he was done for the day.”