Scores

Final

Akron 31

(0-2, 0-1 away)

(18) Wisconsin 48

(2-0, 1-0 home)

3:30 PM ET, September 6, 2003

Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI

1 2 3 4 T
AKR 3 7 14 731
#18WIS 17 14 3 1448

Badger stars Evans, Davis combine for 461 yards

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Eighteenth-ranked Wisconsin avoided a major upset because Lee Evans hasn't lost a step after sitting out last season and undergoing two knee operations.

Anthony Davis will be running behind a veteran offensive line.

Evans hauled in a 99-yard scoring pass from Jim Sorgi in the closing minutes to spark the Badgers to a 48-31 victory over Akron on Saturday.

The senior wideout had 214 yards receiving and Anthony Davis had 247 yards rushing, marking the first time in the program's 114-year history that the Badgers (2-0) had a receiver and running back both top 200 yards in the same game.

Evans caught the third 99-yard TD in Big Ten history moments after Jeff Mack and Ryan Aiello stuffed Bobby Hendry inches from the goal line on fourth down with 6{ minutes remaining.

"If he gets it in, we win this game," Zips quarterback Charlie Frye said.

The Zips (0-2) had already trimmed a 21-point halftime deficit to 34-31, but they fell apart after failing to grab the lead.

Facing man coverage, Evans beat cornerback Rickey McKenzie off the line, hauled in Sorgi's perfect pass at his 40 and raced down the Badgers' jubilant sideline for a 41-31 lead.

"It was like the Lee of old: throw it up, let him catch it and make a play," Sorgi said.

McKenzie admitted the Zips were still smarting over Hendry's dive that many of them thought was a touchdown.

"That devastated us," he said.

Not nearly as much as the next play did, though.

"Good teams make the stop," Zips coach Lee Owens lamented. "We sit around all disappointed, thinking he was in while they're going the other direction 99 yards. You just can't do that. You've got to play the next play."

The Zips had brought the safeties down to stuff the run on the play.

"We were expecting a sneak," McKenzie said.

Badgers offensive coordinator Brian White didn't feel a safe play to get more breathing room was what the Badgers needed at that point.

"I just felt like we needed some sort of momentum changer or somehow, some way to get a big chunk," White said. "And we got it."

The play, dubbed "Wing-Right-56 Jerk" was the kind of call Evans had been waiting more than a year to hear.

"It's a one-man route," he said. "I know it's for me. It was a critical time in the game and that's a time to make a play."

There were more to be made.

Jim Leonhard, who led the nation with 11 interceptions last year, then picked off Frye's pass at the Badgers' 4.

Davis, the nation's leading rusher over the last two seasons, reeled off a 45-yard run before trotting off and watching backup Dwayne Smith score from 34 yards out to make it 48-31.

Davis ran 29 times for 247 yards -- he had a 52-yarder erased by penalty -- and scored three times, on runs of 10, 20 and 14 yards in the first half as the Badgers opened up a 31-10 lead.

Evans tied his career high with nine receptions for 214 yards and two touchdowns. He also caught a 6-yard scoring pass in the first half from Sorgi, a fifth-year senior and first-time starter who was 14-of-25 for a career-high 281 yards.

Their performances helped the Badgers hold off the Zips, who got another outstanding performance from Frye. He completed 31 of 49 passes for 372 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for a score despite taking several big hits that left his right wrist sore and some ribs bruised.

The Badgers needed a strong fourth quarter to avoid an upset by a Mid-American Conference team for the second straight season. Last year, they beat Northern Illinois 24-21 thanks to a touchdown in the final two minutes.

Hendry and Frye both scored on 2-yard runs and, after Scott Campbell's 35-yard field goal, Dennis Basch's 7-yard touchdown run with 11 minutes remaining pulled the Zips to 34-31. Basch's score came after McKenzie intercepted Sorgi at the Akron 9.

The Zips could have tied it at 34 had Owens gone for a chip-shot field goal instead of a run on fourth-and-goal. But he never considered it.

"We came here playing and coaching for the win," Owens said. "We were going for the win right there. We thought we had the chance to deliver the knockout blow. We had all the momentum on our side.

"We felt good about the decision. We still do."

Badgers coach Barry Alvarez was glad Owens called the play he did.

"I talk about the pendulum swinging," Alvarez said. "And it swung pretty fast."

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