The Axe is back in Minnesota

Gophers beat Wisconsin for first time since 2003.

Posted: Nov 25, 2018 10:43 AM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The giddy Minnesota players ran one way down the field, with one lucky Golden Gopher holding tightly on to Paul Bunyan's Axe as they raced toward a goal post.

Coach P.J. Fleck went the other way, jogged past the end zone and gave someone a bear hug.

Fourteen years of frustration, all gone in one memorable night at Camp Randall Stadium.

Mohamed Ibrahim ran for 121 yards and a score, a resurgent defense held up on the road and Minnesota ran away from Wisconsin for a 37-15 win on Saturday to snap a 14-game losing streak in the rivalry and reclaim the precious axe.

"This is why you coach. These are moments and memories you'll remember forever," Fleck said.

The Gophers (6-6, 3-6 Big Ten) also became bowl eligible for the first time under the excitable second-year head coach.

And yet that important step forward for the program was overshadowed, at least for one night, with the victory to take back the axe. It was Minnesota's first win in the series since 2003, and the first victory in Madison since 1994.

"When you hold the axe, now you know why everybody wants it so much," Fleck said. "It's a very surreal feeling."

They earned it by following Wisconsin's blueprint for success, pounding away on the ground in the second half and capitalizing on four turnovers.

Bryce Williams ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, both coming on drives after turnovers by Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook.

Jonathan Taylor, the nation's leading rusher, had 120 yards on 19 carries for the Badgers (7-5, 5-4). Hornibrook, starting for the first time since missing two games while in the concussion protocol, threw three interceptions and lost a fumble on a sack.

Minnesota scored 24 points off those miscues.

Hornibrook was listed as questionable during the week after his second concussion in a month. Coach Paul Chryst said the team felt confident that Hornibrook was ready.

"Anytime you turn the ball over that number of times, you make it tough on yourselves," Chryst said.

IMPROVING DEFENSE

What a turnaround for Minnesota's defense since Joe Rossi took over as interim coordinator following a 55-31 loss to Illinois on Nov. 3. The Gophers have allowed just 49 points in the three games since that blowout.

And they had to play Saturday without top linebacker Blake Cashman for the majority of the game after the standout linebacker was ejected for targeting on a punt return early in the second quarter.

Jacob Huff had 10 tackles and forced fumble for the Gophers.

SCORING FLURRY

The Gophers took control in a pivotal stretch late in the second quarter that started when Ibrahim ran untouched into the front left corner of the end zone on fourth-and-1 from the 10 with 2:21 left in the half.

Normally sure-handed receiver A.J. Taylor dropped a third-down pass to force the Wisconsin punt returned by Demetrius Douglas for a 17-0 lead with 1:05 left.

WISCONSIN BADGERED

Wisconsin looked like it would take momentum back after Jake Ferguson made an athletic, twisting catch in the end zone on a 7-yard pass from Hornibrook with 1 second left to get to 17-7.

But the Badgers couldn't convert on fourth-and-3 from the Minnesota 44 on the opening drive of third quarter. It was a sign of things to come for Wisconsin.

"We didn't play good enough football to earn the right to keep the axe," Chryst said.

SEE IT, BELIEVE IT

Fleck said he had his team visualize all week what it would be like to claim back the axe.

"Being able to visualize this was huge," quarterback Tanner Morgan said.

TAKEAWAYS

Minnesota: The Gophers ran for 152 yards on 33 carries in the second half and went 5 of 9 on third downs. They held the ball for 21 after halftime and forced two turnovers over the final 5 minutes. It was Wisconsin-like football.

Wisconsin: The loss epitomized an underwhelming season for the offense. Taylor is the team's best big-play threat, though the Gophers keyed on the star running back early in the game. Hornibrook has been in and out of the lineup for much of the last five weeks because of injury. The passing game sputtered for much of that time whether Hornibrook or backup Jack Coan has been behind center. Hornibrook was 22 of 33 for 189 yards and two scores.

UP NEXT

Both teams await their bowl destinations. Representatives from the Citrus, Holiday and Pinstripe Bowl were at the game.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 593622

Reported Deaths: 7379
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1228171731
Ramsey51446875
Dakota45976452
Anoka41782439
Washington26948283
Stearns22266222
St. Louis17787304
Scott17296124
Wright16082140
Olmsted1325598
Sherburne1173087
Carver1050745
Clay816392
Rice8063107
Blue Earth751541
Crow Wing666290
Kandiyohi656283
Chisago601351
Otter Tail575478
Benton571697
Goodhue478572
Douglas468575
Mower466232
Winona455050
Itasca439156
McLeod424559
Isanti422464
Morrison419660
Nobles408048
Beltrami397059
Steele388715
Polk384868
Becker380953
Lyon361051
Carlton345654
Freeborn342029
Pine329022
Nicollet326243
Brown305440
Mille Lacs305053
Le Sueur292423
Todd282432
Cass273428
Meeker256640
Waseca236322
Martin230732
Roseau209419
Wabasha20613
Hubbard190041
Dodge18513
Renville180343
Redwood174337
Houston171916
Cottonwood165823
Fillmore156510
Wadena155922
Pennington153719
Faribault152419
Chippewa152338
Kanabec144726
Sibley143810
Aitkin135036
Watonwan13289
Rock128319
Jackson121812
Pipestone115926
Yellow Medicine114120
Pope11056
Murray10639
Swift105618
Stevens91411
Marshall88117
Clearwater86916
Koochiching83615
Wilkin81612
Lake81120
Lac qui Parle75322
Big Stone6004
Lincoln5813
Grant5788
Mahnomen5539
Norman5399
Unassigned49293
Kittson48622
Red Lake3977
Traverse3705
Lake of the Woods3253
Cook1640

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 367236

Reported Deaths: 5940
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk57666626
Linn20892335
Scott20060241
Black Hawk15824308
Woodbury15138228
Johnson1449183
Dubuque13380208
Dallas1118398
Pottawattamie11132168
Story1062348
Warren577988
Clinton555893
Cerro Gordo540689
Sioux514474
Webster512293
Marshall483075
Muscatine481399
Des Moines458066
Wapello4303122
Buena Vista424840
Jasper419372
Plymouth401280
Lee376055
Marion362875
Jones299057
Henry291937
Carroll285752
Bremer284860
Crawford266240
Boone265034
Benton256655
Washington254050
Dickinson248543
Mahaska230451
Jackson222142
Clay215725
Kossuth215564
Tama209871
Delaware209741
Winneshiek196835
Page192722
Buchanan191432
Cedar190023
Hardin185643
Fayette185141
Wright184737
Hamilton180049
Harrison179673
Clayton169556
Butler165034
Madison162519
Mills162422
Floyd161142
Cherokee158938
Lyon158241
Poweshiek154934
Allamakee151451
Iowa148824
Hancock148434
Winnebago142531
Cass138654
Calhoun138513
Grundy136333
Emmet134240
Jefferson132435
Shelby131137
Sac130419
Union128333
Louisa128149
Appanoose128049
Mitchell126442
Chickasaw124116
Guthrie121530
Franklin120721
Humboldt119126
Palo Alto112823
Howard104622
Montgomery103338
Clarke100224
Unassigned9710
Keokuk96031
Monroe95329
Ida90435
Adair86532
Pocahontas85522
Davis83024
Monona82730
Osceola78716
Greene77710
Lucas77223
Worth7478
Taylor66012
Fremont6229
Decatur6089
Ringgold55824
Van Buren55818
Wayne53923
Audubon51010
Adams3384
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