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October 14, 2006

Wisconsin dominates Minnesota, takes Ax

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MADISON, Wis. John Stocco threw four touchdown passes and P.J. Hill ran for two scores as No. 25 Wisconsin beat Minnesota 48-12 on Saturday to keep Paul Bunyan's Ax.

Wisconsin (6-1, 3-1 Big Ten) wasted little time turning the 242-pound Hill loose, and the redshirt freshman responded with 164 yards on 25 carries to help produce the biggest margin of victory in the last 23 meetings.

Minnesota (2-5, 0-4) had no answer early for Hill or late for Stocco, who went 12-of-19 for 191 yards and had TD passes of 8, 2, 40 and 4 yards.

When the Golden Gophers focused on slowing Hill, Stocco picked them apart. Minnesota has lost four straight with Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa still on the schedule.

Hill now has 542 yards rushing and six touchdowns in the last three games, and the Badgers have outscored opponents 141-38 during the span.

On the opening possession, Hill gained 78 yards on seven carries - including five straight touches to start the Badgers offense.

He flashed his power and poise to finish the drive, first gaining 28 yards on a fourth-and-inches play after a block by freshman right tackle Jake Bscherer.

Hill, who also had a 2-yard TD in the third quarter, scored on the next play from the Gophers 5 by running through the middle of Minnesota's defense to give Wisconsin a 14-0 lead less than 10 minutes into the game.

Minnesota's Amir Pinnix, who finished with 97 yards on 19 carries, scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth, but had a costly fumble that Badgers cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu returned 50 yards for a touchdown just 95 seconds in to give Wisconsin a 7-0 lead.

In another play that typified Minnesota's struggles, Pinnix broke two ankle tackles and had an angle to the end zone, but tripped and fell after running into teammate Logan Payne, who was attempting to block downfield.

The Gophers had to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Jason Giannini to make it 14-3.

Hill's running, which has been compared to that of former Badger Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, opened up the rest of the field for Stocco.

The senior quarterback who had his second career four-TD game gave Wisconsin a 28-3 halftime lead with scoring tosses to Luke Swan and Andy Crooks. He added two more to Travis Beckum in the second half.

Stocco moved into second in career touchdown passes at Wisconsin with 42, 17 behind the school record set in 1995 by current Minnesota Vikings' offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

For more coverage of Wisconsin, visit BadgerBlitz.com; for more on Minnesota, visit GopherIllustrated.com.

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