Tay­lor, Badgers wear down Pur­due

Post Tribune (Sunday) - - Sports - By Michael Marot The As­so­ci­ated Press

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Wis­con­sin’s Jonathan Tay­lor kept pound­ing away on his thick, strong legs Satur­day.

Even­tu­ally, his pa­tience paid div­i­dends.

Tay­lor wore down Pur­due’s de­fense, fin­ish­ing with a ca­reer-high 321 yards and scor­ing three times in the sec­ond half, in­clud­ing the de­ci­sive 17yard touch­down run in the third over­time, to lead the Badgers past Pur­due 47-44.

“That’s some­thing that you watch on TV,” Tay­lor said. “As a kid, you’re watch­ing and say­ing that must feel amaz­ing. This is the ex­act same feel­ing that you dream of.”

Ex­cept it was all real and the el­e­ments made this one tailor-made for the Badgers’ bruis­ing back. On a cold, rainy day that turned into night, the 231-pound Tay­lor cer­tainly packed a punch.

He matched his ca­reer high with 33 car­ries, av­er­ag­ing 9.7 yards per carry while scor­ing on runs of 80, 12 and 17 yards when the reel­ing Badgers needed a boost af­ter their play­off as­pi­ra­tions and Big Ten ti­tle hopes had been de­railed by three losses in their last five games — two of those with­out in­jured quar­ter­back Alex Horni­brook who also missed Satur­day’s game.

Tay­lor jump-started the Badgers’ of­fense with the 80-yard run on the first of­fen­sive play of the sec­ond half, helped open things up for the pass­ing game with his strong runs and even­tu­ally cre­ated enough headaches for the Boil­er­mak­ers to help Wis­con­sin over­come a 27-13 deficit in the fi­nal seven min­utes of reg­u­la­tion be­fore reach­ing the end zone in all three over­times.

Wis­con­sin (7-4, 5-3) has won 13 straight in the se­ries and needed to win this game and next week’s reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale to im­prove their bowl prospects.

“Our guys played as hard as they could. They gave us great ef­fort,” Pur­due coach Jeff Brohm said, ac­knowl­edg­ing his team needed more depth to stand up to Tay­lor. “This isn’t go­ing to hap­pen overnight, but if we com­pete and keep try­ing to push the en­ve­lope ev­ery year, hope­fully we can im­prove on that. It will take some time.”

The loss ru­ined what looked like it would be a per­fect send-off for three of t h e mo st p ro d u c t i ve Pur­due play­ers in school his­tory — quar­ter­back David Blough and run­ning backs D.J. Knox and Markell Jones.

Blough was 31 of 48 with 386 yards and four touch­down passes in his fi­nal home game. Knox rushed for 39 yards and had 49 yards re­ceiv­ing with one TD and Jones bounced off a de­fender dur­ing a 12-yard scor­ing run that turned a 13-10 deficit into a 17-13 lead.

Fresh­man Ron­dale Moore over­shad­owed all three. He caught nine passes for 114 yards and two TDs, rushed four times for 27 yards and set up an­other score with a 33-yard kick­off re­turn. His sen­sa­tional 46yard catch-and-run for a third-quar­ter TD gave Pur­due a 24-13 lead and he fol­lowed that by wig­gling through four Badgers’ de­fend­ers for a 15-yard score to open the first over­time.

Tay­lor made sure it still wasn’t enough.

“They held them to a field goal,” Tay­lor said. “I de­cided to give ev­ery­thing in my power to show ap­pre­ci­a­tion to our de­fense for stop­ping them.”

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