EVANSTON, Ill. – The defense had forced a three-and-out in the third quarter, another encouraging moment for a unit doing its part to keep the University of Wisconsin football team in the game.
But Jim Leonhard’s group didn’t stay on the sidelines for long. A roughing-the-punter call on linebacker Jack Sanborn helped Northwestern retain possession of the ball and was a key play in the Wildcats’ 31-17 victory over the No. 20 Badgers on Saturday afternoon at Ryan Field.
It appeared Sanborn tripped over a Northwestern blocker en route to plowing into Wildcats punter Jake Collins. The contact drew a flag from the officials and Sanborn was assessed a 15-yard personal foul.
Sanborn was among the players requested by media for postgame interviews. But the true freshman wasn’t made available following the game, a choice made by the UW athletic communications staff according to a team spokesman.
The penalty gave Northwestern a first down at the UW 49-yard line. They made the Badgers pay for the miscue when Kyric McGown made a great catch in the back of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown reception that gave the Wildcats a 21-10 lead.
“It is what is, Sanborn trying to make a play on the ball,” UW senior linebacker T.J. Edwards said. “You love that out of a freshman. He’s trying to change the game. It’s just one of those things that, they called it, and as a defense you have to be able to respond from that and come back ready to go and try to stop the momentum.”
It was one of three penalties on the day for UW’s special teams. An illegal block in the back on Mason Stokke wiped out a solid kick return by freshman Aron Cruickshank in the first quarter, and holding call on John Chenal on a punt return left the Badgers with poor field position early in the fourth quarter.
Gaglianone breaks record
Senior Rafael Gaglianone became UW’s all-time leader in made field goals with a 36-yarder late in the first half.
Gaglianone now has 66 field goals in his career, one more than Todd Gregoire had from 1984-87.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it too much,” said Gaglianone, who missed a 51-yard attempt wide left late in the third quarter. “Obviously, you want to put the team first. That was the least of my worries, getting the record or not getting the record. You want to come out with the win, and we didn’t do that today.”
Junior Zach Hintze missed a 62-yard field goal attempt on the final play of the first half. Hintze had the distance but was wide right. Had Hintze converted, it would have broken the program record held by John Hall (60 yards vs. Minnesota in 1995).
Allen takes over punting duties
Connor Allen handled punts for UW on Saturday over starter Anthony Lotti.
Allen averaged 36.8 yards on four punts, including a 31-yard boot that went out of bounds at the 15-yard line. The junior said he found out “about Wednesday or Thursday” that he’d be starting against Northwestern.
“I was excited for my opportunity,” Allen said. “Each game, each punt really, is an opportunity you can prove yourself and prove what you can do for the team, so I was excited to take advantage of it. … I didn’t do as good as I should have or could have done, and I know what I did when it came to making those misses happen. So it’s something I can work on for next week.”
Lotti averaged 39.1 yards per punt over the first seven games of the season, and Allen said it’ll be “week to week” moving forward as to which of the two starts.
From the infirmary
UW suffered two injuries up front during its loss to the Wildcats.
Nose tackle Olive Sagapolu, who entered the weekend questionable with a left leg injury, started the game but exited in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be a right arm injury.
Left tackle Cole Van Lanen suffered a left leg injury with 1:12 left in the first half. He later reemerged on the Badgers’ sideline with crutches and a walking boot.
UW coach Paul Chryst said after the game he did not yet know the severity of the injuries.
Redshirt freshman Logan Bruss earned playing time at left tackle in the fourth quarter. With Jon Dietzen, who splits time at left tackle with Van Lanen, not physically able to play every snap, an extended absence for Van Lanen could force UW into changes at the position.
“It’s not like (Bruss) was working a bunch of left tackle this week,” UW left guard Michael Deiter said. “Who knows how it could play out? I think Logan, if he got reps all week, would be just fine. I think me playing tackle would be just fine, and we could get (Jason Erdmann) at guard. But we’ll see what’s going on with Cole, and then Jon, he’ll be back.”
Jason Galloway contributed to this story.