Saturday, August 24, 2002

No. 25 Wisconsin 23, Fresno St. 21

The Associated Press

        MADISON, Wis. — This return wasn't nearly as electrifying as Bernard Berrian's last one. Berrian, whose 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown at Camp Randall Stadium a year ago sparked one of the biggest victories in Fresno State's history, sprained his right knee on his only return Friday night and watched as Wisconsin exacted its revenge.

        Mike Allen's 34-yard field goal with 2:05 left gave the 25th-ranked Badgers a 23-21 victory over the Bulldogs in the second John Thompson Foundation Classic.

        “Every loss hurts. It hurts more when there's nothing you can do about it,” said Berrian, who sat out the final three quarters. “I have to get an MRI tomorrow, but hopefully I'll be back next week.”

        Sophomore strong safety Jim Leonhard, the anchor of the Badgers' retooled secondary, had two interceptions in his first career start and he added a game-saving breakup on the Bulldogs' last-gasp pass.

        On fourth-and-19 from his 41, Fresno State quarterback Jeff Grady, who replaced David Carr, the top pick in the NFL draft, threw a hard pass that Leonhard, a walk-on, knocked from Marque Davis' hands.

        “I saw him make his break. I got a good jump on the ball and just knocked it out of there,” Leonhard said.

        Otherwise, the Bulldogs would have had a first down at the 35 and a chance for their second straight victory in Madison.

        “If he catches it, who knows? We win the game,” said Bulldogs coach Pat Hill. “But he made the play and we didn't.”

        Grady lamented his throw before that, an intentional grounding that pushed the Bulldogs back from midfield to their 41 and cost them a down.

        “That killed the drive. I had to be a little smarter,” Grady said. “I'll learn to throw it a little sooner and a little deeper.”

        Last year, Berrian racked up 300 all-purpose yards against the Badgers. He was off to another fine start Friday night when he sprained his right knee on the final play of the first quarter and didn't return.

        “It might be a slight ligament tear,” Hill said. “It hurt because he had two big plays early for us. It hurt to lose him that early in the game. But they didn't have Lee Evans and we didn't have Berrian.”

        Berrian, among the nation's premier receivers and returners, was injured when he was smothered by Jason Pociask on a 1-yard punt return at his 11. He had two catches for 54 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown reception for the game's first points.

        The Badgers sorely missed Evans, their all-time leading receiver who is out until October with a knee injury, but Anthony Davis rushed 37 times for 184 yards and freshman fullback Matt Bernstein scored twice before hyperextending a knee in the third quarter.

        Three minutes before Allen's game-winning field goal, he missed from 46 yards. But an offside penalty on Fresno State kept the drive alive.

        “We played hard but we didn't play smart at times,” Hill said.

        Grady, who injured a hip on a hard hit from defensive end Jake Sprague just before halftime, put the Bulldogs ahead 21-20 with a 23-yard TD pass to Alec Greco with nine minutes left.

        The score came two plays after Badgers backup Jerone Pettus fumbled at his 26 and Bryce McGill recovered for Fresno State.

        Three plays after Berrian went out, Fresno State center Rodney Michael snapped the ball over Grady's head and Sprague recovered at the 1. Bernstein took it in from there to tie it at 7.

        The Badgers made it 10-7 on Allen's 27-yard field goal after a touchdown by Davis was negated by Tony Paciotti's hold. Asen Asparuhov's 55-yard attempt fell short as the first half expired.

        Sam Williams recovered a fumble by Davis at the Badgers' 15 and five plays later, Grady hit Adam Jennings with an 8-yard scoring strike that put the Bulldogs on top 14-10 in the third quarter.

        The Badgers responded with a 65-yard drive capped by Bernstein's second TD, a 3-yard rumble that put Wisconsin ahead 17-14.

        Allen's 35-yard field goal made it 20-14 with 11:50 remaining.

        Grady completed 21 of 42 passes for 262 yards. But his sore hip forced Hill to abandon his play-action calls.

        “He was very immobile,” Hill said. “But he had some big-time throws. He threw some big-time shots. He had a gutty performance. He played on one leg.”

        Grady said it wasn't injuries that cost the Bulldogs but their four turnovers.

        Leonhard, a walk-on, intercepted Grady's first deep pass of the night and picked him off again in the fourth quarter, when he stripped the ball from Jennings.

        “Jim Leonhard is a really special kid,” Alvarez said. “Just does everything. He's so dependable. He's amazing. Now, there's one cat who didn't have big eyes.”


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