5:45 PM ET, September 25, 2004
Camp Randall Stadium, MADISON, WI
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Matt Bernstein ended his fast with a feast.
The 270-pound fullback bullied his way to a career-best 123 yards after replacing an ineffective and injured Booker Stanley to help No. 20 Wisconsin hold off Penn State 16-3 Saturday night.
Bernstein hadn't eaten for 24 hours because of Yom Kippur, so he wolfed down oranges and turkey on the sideline after kickoff, along with several chugs of water.
"It's been a tough day," he said. "I was happy (kickoff) was at 5 o'clock so I could play."
So was Badgers coach Barry Alvarez, who cracked that after the game "we gave him a hoagie and an IV."
The Badgers (1-0 Big Ten) held their opponents out of the end zone for the third time in four games and ended the month 4-0 despite the absence of star tailback Anthony Davis (eye) for the last 3½ games.
The loss was costly for the Nittany Lions (2-2, 0-1), who lost their top two offensive weapons in the first quarter when quarterback Zack Mills injured his right shoulder on Penn State's first series and his replacement, multitalented Michael Robinson, suffered a concussion.
After the game, Penn State coach Joe Paterno learned his son-in-law, Chris Hort, had been involved in a serious bicycle accident in State College and immediately flew home ahead of his team.
Bernstein was pressed into duty when Stanley, who gained just 9 yards on 10 carries, couldn't go in the second half after aggravating a turf toe injury and Jamil Walker hurt a shoulder.
Bernstein said offensive coordinator Brian White told him during the week to be ready.
"And I didn't believe him, obviously, because who's going to put in a 270-pound tailback?" Bernstein said.
After gaining 3 yards on one carry before halftime, Bernstein learned White wasn't kidding and he rushed 26 times for 120 yards in the second half, numbers similar to his entire 2003 output, when he gained 120 yards on 29 attempts. His previous career highs were six carries and 29 yards rushing.
Not only did he chew up yards and clock, but Bernstein displayed an athleticism few of the Camp Randall Stadium record crowd of 82,179 knew existed when he twice hurdled a safety for big gains.
"Little guys don't really go high, they go low," Bernstein explained.
Bernstein carried 11 times for 62 yards on a 17-play, 73-yard drive to open the second half that ate eight minutes and put the Badgers up 16-0 on Mike Allen's third field goal, this one from 26 yards.
"I thought the drive in the third quarter is what killed us," Lions defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. "Bernstein was playing as a tailback. (Greg Root) was the fullback. They're not running backs. They're guards."
The Badgers hope to get Davis back in the lineup, at least on a limited basis, next week against Illinois.
There's no telling how long the Lions will be without their playmaker. Robinson spent the night at University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics, where doctors reported he was moving all his fingers and toes.
Because Robinson is so versatile, it was like losing three players at once.
"We lost him at fullback, at wide receiver, at quarterback," teammate Paul Jefferson said. "That's a big hit to our whole offense."
On first-and-10 from his 18, Robinson spun around just in time to take a hit on the chin from the charging defensive end Erasmus James, who had beaten right guard Tyler Reed around the edge.
Robinson crumpled to the turf and the crowd fell silent as medical personnel attended to him for several minutes before strapping him to a body board and putting him into an ambulance.
Robinson had caught a 49-yard pass from Mills on the Lions' first play.
Mills threw an interception on the next snap, his 11th turnover in the last three games, sprained his right (non-throwing) shoulder on the play and was replaced under center by Robinson, who completed 1 of 3 passes for six yards and was sacked twice.
Third-string quarterback Chris Ganter replaced Robinson and completed just 6-of-23 passes for 32 yards.
"We had to alter our game plan a lot. Michael is a quarterback, is a wide receiver. He helps you in so many ways," Bradley said. "Our offense was forced to become very limited."
The Lions went 1-for-13 on third downs and gained just 157 yards after averaging 30.7 points and 465 yards coming in.
The Badgers capitalized on the Lions' second turnover -- a fumble by Tony Hunt that James recovered -- to drive 44 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. John Stocco ran a naked bootleg to the right side from the 5-yard line. Allen added field goals of 39 and 38 yards as Wisconsin took a 13-0 halftime lead.
All the Lions could muster was Robbie Gould's 23-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||1-13||5-16|
|4th Down Conversions||0-1||1-1|
|TD||1:58||JOHN STOCCO 5 YD RUN (MIKE ALLEN KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 44 yards.
|FG||5:17||MIKE ALLEN 39 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 37 yards.
|FG||2:08||MIKE ALLEN 38 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 5 yards.
|FG||7:01||MIKE ALLEN 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 17 plays, 73 yards.
|FG||2:16||ROBBIE GOULD 23 YD FG|
Drive info: 12 plays, 74 yards.