Hill helps Wisconsin escape against Citadel
Madison, WI (Sports Network) - P.J. Hill rushed for 168 yards and four touchdowns and also added a TD reception as seventh-ranked Wisconsin pulled away in the second half to defeat The Citadel, 45-31.
Looking to follow in the footsteps of Southern Conference foe Appalachian State, The Citadel matched Wisconsin offensively punch-for-punch in the first half and scored late to tie the game at 21-21 at the break.
The Badgers, however, made the necessary halftime adjustments and outscored The Citadel 21-10 in the second half to win going away.
"Our offense came right out of the gate, and then had a little bit of a lapse defensively, in the first half," said Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema.
Tyler Donovan completed 14-of-20 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns for the Badgers (3-0), who extended their winning streak to 12 games dating back to last season -- the longest active winning streak in the nation.
Duran Lawson threw for 254 yards on 23-of-35 passing with four touchdowns and an interception for the Bulldogs (2-1), who were coming off a 76-0 shutout of lowly Webber International.
"I was certainly proud of the way our players handled themselves going into this game," said The Citadel head coach Kevin Higgins. "Their eyes weren't big. They believed they could win this football game. They played with emotion. They played with passion. They made some big plays in the first half that gave us an opportunity to prove that we could play in a game like this. Unfortunately, we just didn't have enough in the third quarter."
Hill got Wisconsin going on its first possession of the second half, running for 26 yards to the Badgers' 45-yard line. After two more Hill runs, Donovan hooked up with Luke Swan for an 11-yard gain on third down to move the chains.
Then, on 3rd-and-13 on The Citadel 43-yard line, Donovan found Swan again for a 17-yard reception to move the chains. Donovan followed that with an 18-yard reception to Travis Beckum that brought the Badgers down to the Bulldogs' eight-yard line.
A Bulldogs' penalty on 3rd-and-goal gave Wisconsin new life and Hill eventually pushed his way across the goal line to put the Badgers up 28-21.
Aubrey Pleasant then sacked Lawson on the first play of The Citadel's next possession before Shane Carter picked off Lawson's first pass attempt of the second half.
The turnover led to Taylor Mehlhaff's 22-yard field goal that made it 31-21 Wisconsin with just under four minutes left in the third.
Wisconsin then forced the Bulldogs to go three-and-out on their next possession before Donovan hit Hill for an 11-yard score in the fourth quarter.
After yet another three-and-out by The Citadel's offense, a short punt and good return by David Gilreath put Wisconsin on the Bulldogs' 28-yard line. One play later, Donovan connected with Beckum for a 25-yard score that made it 45-21 early in the fourth.
Mike Adams' kicked a 38-yard field goal that put the Bulldogs on the board in the second half. The Citadel got another touchdown with just 11 seconds remaining when Lawson found Taylor Cronett in the end zone on 4th-and-goal from the Wisconsin one-yard line.
After forcing The Citadel to punt on its first possession of the game, Wisconsin quickly went up 7-0. Donovan found Kyle Jefferson for two straight completions to the Citadel 22-yard line. One play later, Hill scored for the first time to give Wisconsin the lead.
The Bulldogs, however, responded on their next drive. On The Citadel's first play, Lawson found Andre Roberts for a 17-yard completion before Ta'Mar Jernigan rushed for 25 yards to the Wisconsin 30-yard line.
A Badgers' holding penalty on third down gave Citadel a first downs on the 13- yard line. A Lawson run then gave the Bulldogs a 1st-and-goal on the two-yard line and after an eight-yard loss, Lawson found Tim Higgins over the middle for a touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.
Wisconsin responded with a scoring the drive to start the second quarter. Donovan hit Swan for a 13-yard reception before scrambling 24 yards to The Citadel 40- yard line. Then, on 3rd-and-5, Beckum hauled in a 15-yard catch to move the chains.
The Badgers faced a 4th-and-2 on the 12-yard line and Gilreath kept the drive alive with an nine-yard run. Hill then pushed his way across the goal line to make it 14-7 Wisconsin with just over nine minutes left in the half.
The Citadel answered right back as Lawson found Aaron Kelly in the end zone on 3rd-and-goal from the Badgers' six-yard line.
Gilreath ran the ensuing kickoff back 34-yards and a late hit penalty gave Wisconsin the ball on the Citadel 46-yard line. Hill soon followed with a 40- yard run up the left side line before taking it in from a yard out.
The Bulldogs answered with a quick scoring drive of their own to tie the game heading into halftime.
"We played well in the second half," said Bielema. "But in the first half, the thing that we have to do is understand the flow of the game. Defensively, we�ve got to go in there and make the adjustments."
Lawson found Higgins for a 16-yard reception before hitting Joshua Haney for 22-yards to the Wisconsin 29-yard line. A few plays later, Lawson found Tory Cooper wide open over the middle for a 19-yard score.
"Obviously the size is such an advantage that they have," Higgins said of the difference between his own program and Wisconsin's. "Their offensive line, as big as they are and their ability to just grind the football and wear us down in the third and fourth quarter, makes a huge difference. Depth is always a factor and just the physical size of them was the difference."
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Wisconsin and The Citadel on the gridiron...Lance Smith added 77 yards on seven carries for Wisconsin...Cooper finished with 63 yards on 15 carries with five catches for 89 yards.
09/16 01:49:14 ET