Sunday, September 17, 2000

Wisconsin 28, UC 25

Bearcats force OT, then fall

By Brian Grover
Special to the Enquirer

        MADISON, Wis. — Impossible. Unthinkable. And in the end, just out of reach.

        For four quarters and then some, the Cincinnati Bearcats stood toe-to-toe with No. 4 Wisconsin. UC threatened to upset the Badgers for the second straight year, but lost 28-25 in overtime.

        After some last-second heroics from UC sent the game to overtime, the Bearcats stood ready to go 3-0 and vault into the national spotlight.

        But this year, it was not to be.

        The Bearcats took a 25-22 lead on a Jonathan Ruffin field goal to open the overtime. But on the ensuing Wisconsin possession, tailback Eddie Faulkner scored from 16 yards out. Faulkner bounced off the line and spun away from UC safety DeJuan Gossett, who had him by the sleeve.

        As Faulkner crossed the goal line, the Badgers (3-0) stormed the field as 78,749 fans rose to their feet at Camp Randall Stadium.

        On a day when UC outgained the Badgers 351 yards to 305, Bearcats coach Rick Minter pondered what might have been.

        “It was a great game to be a part of,” Minter said. “It'll go down as a heartbreaking defeat for us, because we thought we had an opportunity to win the game, but that's life.”

        The Badgers were depleted by suspensions and the Bearcats, fresh off a victory over Syracuse, were 2-0. Still, Wisconsin was a two-touchdown favorite.

        In addition to star running back Michael Bennett, the Badgers were without their two best defensive players (tackle Wendell Bryant and All-American cornerback Jamar Fletcher) and their top two receivers (Chris Chambers and Nick Davis).

        They were among a dozen players who served suspensions for receiving unadvertised discounts at a shoe store.

        “We're struggling because we don't have all our players,” Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said. “There are no quality points for wins. It's just a W or an L.”

        UC, leading 19-13 with the ball and 3:30 left, looked as if it would spring the upset. But the Badgers forced UC to go three-and-out, and with the ball buried at their 5-yard line, the Bearcats took a safety and the free kick from the 20-yard line.

        UC wanted to avoid punting from its end zone, and the safety narrowed its lead to 19-15.

        “If we had to do it over, we might not take a safety and give them two,” Minter said. “That proved to be our undoing. But we thought the field position struggle and the time on the clock would work for us.”

        Wisconsin quarterback Brooks Bollinger, rattled all day by UC's pressure defense, drove his team 60 yards in under two minutes, plunging in from 1 yard out with 23 seconds left to put the Badgers ahead 22-19.

        Starting at the UC 33-yard line with 18 seconds left, UC quarterback Deontey Kenner worked quickly, hitting wideout Antonio Chatman three times in quick succession on 10-yard out patterns to move the ball to the Wisconsin 30.

        That set up Mammarelli, the Bearcats' long-range field goal kicker, with a 47-yarder to tie the game 22-22. Wisconsin won the coin toss in overtime and elected to play defense, giving the Bearcats' offense first crack at the end zone from 25 yards out.

        The Bearcats picked up one first down on fourth-and-inches from the 16-yard line, then were given a golden opportunity when Badgers safety Devery Hughes interfered with UC wideout LaDaris Vann in the end zone on third down. The penalty gave the Bearcats a first down at the Wisconsin 3-yard line.

        The Bearcats settled for a field goal after seeing runs by Lloyd Garden and Ray Jackson get stuffed for no gain and a Kenner pass to Chatman fall incomplete in the end zone.

        Worn down by the Badgers' mammoth offensive line, Cincinnati's defensive front could hold no longer. Faulkner, starting in place of suspended tailback Michael Bennett, navigated a gap on the left side of the line for 9 yards on first down. Then from the 16, he burst up the middle for the game-winner.

        Faulkner carried 19 times for 124 yards.

        For Kenner, who played well in a losing effort, throwing for 238 yards and two touchdowns, talk of moral victories and silver linings rang hollow.

        “It doesn't matter,” Kenner said. “We lost, we didn't prove anything. They got a victory, that's all that matters.”

Minter reconsiders safety strategy

        Cincinnati ....... 6 7 0 9 3—25

        Wisconsin ....... 7 3 0 12 6—28

        First Quarter

        Wis—Bollinger 8 run (Pisetsky kick), 12:09.

        Cin—FG Ruffin 36, 8:49.

        Cin—FG Mammarelli 45, 3:51.

        Second Quarter

        Wis—FG Pisetsky 30, 11:16.

        Cin—Vann 13 pass from Kenner (Ruffin kick), 7:29.

        Fourth Quarter

        Wis—FG Pisetsky 40, 11:37.

        Cin—Jackson 51 pass from Kenner (kick failed), 9:26.

        Wis—Safety Cincinnati snaps ball out of end zone, 2:15.

        Wis—Bollinger 1 run (Pisetsky kick), :23.

        Cin—FG Mammarelli 46, :00.


        Cin—FG 20 Ruffin.

        Wis—Faulker 16 run.



        RUSHING—Cincinnati, Jackson 23-47, Kenner 6-40, McCleskey 5-30, Garden 2-1, team 1-(minus 5). Wisconsin, Faulkner 19-124, Bollinger 20-35, Unertl 6-29, Kuhns 2-10.

        PASSING—Cincinnati, Kenner 19-37-1-238. Wisconsin, Bollinger 10-19-0-85, Evans 1-1-0-22, team 0-1-0-0.

        RECEIVING—Cincinnati, Chatman 10-119, Collins-Baker 5-38, Vann 2-28, Jackson 1-51, Smikle 1-2. Wisconsin, Evans 4-30, Whyte 3-35, Bollinger 1-22, Unertl 1-7, Braun 1-7, Kuhns 1-6.


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