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Badgers stuffed by elastic Marquette defense in playoffs


November 05, 2013 | 04:41 PM
WAUWATOSA — Early in the second quarter, Badger methodically marched into Marquette Hilltopper territory and set up for a field goal on fourth down.

The kick bounced off the uprights. No good.

With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Badger was inside the Hilltopper 10-yard line with four downs to score. The Hilltoppers stuffed the middle and didn’t give an inch. On fourth down, a miscommunication in the Badger backfield led to a fumble. The Hilltoppers recovered and Badger went into halftime down 7-0.

The score could have been 7-6. But it wasn’t. Badger couldn’t find a way to score.

Badger lost 14-3 to the Hilltoppers, Friday night, battling against Marquette’s elastic defense and their own mistakes. Badger rushed for 195 yards and threw for 132, but only came away with 3 points – the fewest points they scored in 11 games. Marquette scored 14 despite compiling only 210 yards of total offense.

“Their defense, just plain and simple, made a few more plays than our offense,” Badger coach Matt Hensler said after the game. “I don’t know how many times we got (the ball) inside their 30. I don’t know. It had to be four, maybe five. I don’t know. To come away with only 3 points; you’re not going to win. Plain and simple, you won’t win.”

The Hilltoppers defense bent, but didn’t break. Marquette stacked the box on late-down, short-yardage situations and built an impenetrable redzone wall.

The Badgers converted on only six of 15 third downs. Offside and holding penalties killed drives. Marquette seemed to know when Badger was most likely to run up the gut and had linebacker Jack Horter shadow the line of scrimmage. Horter plugged up gaps, but was also an effective containment man.

Badger knocked hard all night, but the Hilltoppers didn’t let them in. Marquette’s solid goal-line defense forced Badger to explore its passing game.

“We saw it on film,” Hensler said. “We kind of figured what they were going to do, and try and take advantage of it, but they adjusted and did a great job.”

Though Badger quarterback Collin Broderick threw for 132 yards, the Hilltoppers’ defensive backs were prepared and snagged two interceptions.

Badger kicker Donald Schnurrer managed a 26-yard field goal midway through the third quarter, but the Hilltoppers fired back with a touchdown on the next drive.

“Their defense just stepped up. Give them all the credit,” Hensler said of the Hilltoppers. “They made more plays in the crunch than we did.”

Coming into Friday night’s game, the Hilltoppers averaged just over 170 rushing yards and 225 passing yards per game. Badger held them to 86 on the ground and 124 in the air.

“Our defense, I thought, was awesome all night,” Hensler said. “Our defense was great, our defensive staff did a tremendous job preparing our week and our defense played awesome.”

But predictability and lack of diversity in late-down situations were costly for a Badger offense that ran 55 times and attempted only 15 passes. Badger struggled to adapt, and the Hilltoppers came away with the win

Badger finished the season 8-3. Marquette, now 9-2, will play at Franklin this Friday in level three of the WIAA Division I playoffs.


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