The University of Wisconsin football team entered the first-half locker room with a 17-0 lead over Illinois State in Saturday’s season opener at Camp Randall.
The Redbirds controlled the ball for 19 minutes, 8 seconds in the first half. Here are three notes from the first half.
history making quarters
UW fans saw some amazing shots during the first half which included two 90-yard touchdowns as well as touchdowns. Both hide some dirty play on either side of the ball.
Year 5 John Turchio read perfectly Illinois quarterback Zach Annexstad for 3rd and 7th of UW 9, grabbing a pass at the goal line and taking it 100 yards to the south end area to nullify the Redbirds’ scoring opportunity. Vito Calvarosso’s point made the score 7-0. Reserve rear cornerback Max Lofy and starting safety Hunter Wohler made blocks down the field to help separate the Torchio.
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Torchio broke the record set by Joe Ferguson five years ago. Ferguson, a grandson of Barry Alvarez, returned an interception with a 99-yard touchdown against Utah State on September 1, 2017.
Braelon Allen got a handover after a pinned call by a red graded freshman on the right Riley Mahlman and rushed 96 yards for a touchdown. That surpassed James White’s 93-yard touchdown against Indiana on November 16, 2013.
Allen finished the first inning with 116 yards on seven carts and touchdowns.
Some early mental errors
Wisconsin had a three-point lead in the first half, but there were some early lapses in all three stages. The team committed five penalties in the first half – two on each of the defensive and special teams and one on the offense.
The two in defense landed Illinois first. Keeanu Benton roughed up his fairway penalty in the 3rd and 5th and cleared Cedrick Dort Jr.’s pass. To give the Redbirds a new set of defeats. The same drive saw UW hold Illinois State third and 22nd, but a wrong personal penalty against Wohler allowed the Brock Spack to continue their streak.
Officials called two penalty shootouts as cornerback Jay Shaw kicked off the ball’s return in order to stop a UW offense.
The UW defense allowed 149 yards in the first half, but 61 of them came from two big passing games in the second quarter.
Meretz looks sharp early on
Many will be watching the productivity quarterback this season as the UW offensive develops, and QB1 looked more than solid in the first two quarters.
Junior sophomore Graham Mertz finished 6 of 7 for just 59 yards, but all of his throws were on target. The only shortcoming came on his first attempt at the game, a third throw down, and on the money dropped by Marcus Allen, the wide receiver for freshmen.
Mertz did not lose faith in his second-year wide, however, hitting him three times for 34 yards later in the inning.
IN PICTURES: Wisconsin opens its football season against Illinois