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Badgers keep the Axe

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Associated Press
November 17, 2007
— David Gilreath made an electrifying return to his home state, racking up 226 return yards to help No. 24 Wisconsin to a 41-34 victory over Minnesota in a Big Ten football season finale here Saturday.

Zach Brown rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in place of the injured P.J. Hill for the Badgers (9-3, 5-3 Big Ten), who overcame injuries all season long to win at least nine games for the fourth year in a row, the first time thatís happened in the programís history.


Adam Weber threw for 352 yards and three touchdowns for Minnesota (1-11, 0-8), which went winless in the Big Ten for the first time since 1983 and lost Paul Bunyanís Axe to its border rival for the fourth straight year.


Gilreath, from the Minneapolis suburb of Robbinsdale, initially committed to the Gophers last year but backed out when coach Glen Mason was fired.


New coach Tim Brewster was hired to replace Mason in January, but by then it was too late to convince the speedster change his mind.


It was easy to see why the Gophers wanted him. Gilreath was a force in both kick and punt returns, and perhaps played a big role in one of the key plays of the game without even touching the ball.


Trailing 27-20 with 13 minutes to play, the Gophers faced a fourth-and-10 from their own 41. With Gilreath back deep waiting for the punt, Brewster called a fake, and punter Justin Kucek dashed around the end. But he came up two yards short of the first down, giving Wisconsin the ball at the Minnesota 49.


Brown and the Badgers drove down the field in four plays, culminating with a 16-yard TD pass from Tyler Donovan to Travis Beckum that made the score 34-20.


Weber and the Gophers hung in until the end but again came up short.


Ralph Spry turned a deflected pass into a 71-yard touchdown to cut Wisconsinís lead to 41-34 with 4:30 to go, but Donovan rushed for a key first down on fourth and inches late in the game.


Ben Strickland intercepted Weberís desperation pass with just over 1 minute left, sealing the victory for the Badgers.



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