College Football: Wisconsin 59, Utah State 10 - D1SportsNet


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College football

Wisconsin 59, Utah State 10

MADISON, Wis. -- Sophomore quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw three touchdown passes to lead No. 9 Wisconsin to a 59-10 win over Utah State on Friday night in the season opener for both teams at Camp Randall Stadium.

Freshman running back Jonathan Taylor had an impressive effort in his first career game for the Badgers, finishing with nine carries for 87 yards and a touchdown.

Sophomore running back Bradrick Shaw had 18 carries for 84 yards for the Badgers and senior tight end Troy Fumagalli led receivers with five catches for 105 yards and a score.

Pushing aside a woeful first quarter, Wisconsin found its footing in the third quarter with a 28-point scoring barrage that put the game out of reach.

The Badgers' offense was up and running in the third as Taylor rushed 41 yards on the first play of the second half. Taylor had a couple short runs before Hornibrook connected with Fumagalli on a 23-yard touchdown pass that gave Wisconsin its first lead, at 17-10, with 13:00 left in the third quarter.

The Badgers padded their lead on the heels of Utah State quarterback Kent Myers' second interception, which was gathered in by Wisconsin senior safety D'Cota Dixon at the Badgers' 48-yard line. Three plays later, junior tight end Zander Neuville caught a 28-yard TD pass for Wisconsin at 11:20 of the third.

Taylor's touchdown, a 13-yard rush, put Wisconsin ahead 31-10 with 7:50 remaining.

Wisconsin stretched its lead to 38-10 as Hornibrook capped the third-quarter scoring with a 21-yard TD pass on a back-shoulder throw to sophomore wide receiver Quintez Cephus with 51 seconds to go.

Hornibrook completed 15 of 23 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns.

One of the most spectacular plays of the game was a 99-yard interception return for a TD in the fourth quarter by Wisconsin senior safety Joe Ferguson, a Madison native and the son of Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez, to make it 52-10.

Wisconsin's defense held the Aggies to 304 total yards of offense, and only 85 rushing yards. The Badgers collected 24 points off of four Utah State turnovers. The Aggies racked up eight penalties for 83 yards.

Myers completed 25 of 41 passes for 219 yards and three interceptions for Utah State.

The Aggies got on the board first with a 25-yard field goal by Dominik Eberle with 4 minutes, 56 seconds left in the first quarter.

Utah State didn't waste time in getting its first touchdown less than one minute later, when Aggies linebacker Suli Tamaivena recovered a fumble and ran 13 yards to the Badgers 16-yard line.

Two plays later, senior running back LaJuan Hunt had a 12-yard touchdown run to extend Utah State's lead to 10-0.

Myers completed 9 of 11 passes for 43 yards and one interception in the first half.

In the second quarter, the Aggies lost senior cornerback Jalen Davis, who was ejected for targeting. It appeared that Davis, who had 37 starts in 37 games entering Friday's game, led with his head in hitting Cephus in the face mask.

Wisconsin finally strung together a strong series for a score and impactful plays late in the second quarter to even the score.

The critical play during the Badgers' 15-play, 79-yard touchdown drive was a 15-yard bullet pass by Hornibrook to Fumagalli to Utah State's 34-yard line. Six plays later, Shaw rushed 3 yards for the score to trim Utah State's lead to 10-7 with 1:12 to go in the first half.

On the first play of the Aggies' final series of the half, Badgers junior inside linebacker T.J. Edwards intercepted a Myers pass intended for tight end Carson Terrell and ran seven yards to the Utah State 18-yard line.

Hornibrook threw three incomplete passes to start the Badgers' drive, but junior kicker Rafael Gaglianone drilled a 29-yard to tie the score at 10 as time expired in the half.

The Badgers logged six penalties for 38 yards in the first half. Wisconsin averaged 3.4 penalties and 32.5 yards per game during the 2016 season.