12:00 PM ET, November 8, 2003
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- As Rhys Lloyd prepared for his game-winning field goal, Minnesota coach Glen Mason offered a final piece of advice.
"Don't forget to get the Axe," Mason said, referring to Paul Bunyan's Axe, which sat on Wisconsin's sideline.
Lloyd's 35-yard kick gave the Gophers (No. 18 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) a 37-34 win over the rival Badgers on Saturday. And Lloyd didn't forget the Axe. The kicker led a stampede of Gophers to the Wisconsin sideline, grabbed the trophy and paraded it around the Metrodome field.
"I'm just glad he didn't go for the Axe before he kicked the ball," Mason joked.
Marion Barber III had 139 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Laurence Maroney added 135 yards and a score for the Gophers (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten), who overcame a career day by Wisconsin quarterback Jim Sorgi.
Minnesota has won three straight games for its first nine-win season since 1905, when it won 10 games.
Sorgi, who returned to the lineup after minor left knee surgery, threw for a career-high 305 yards and four touchdowns. Sorgi sat out Wisconsin's loss at Northwestern two weeks ago, which knocked the Badgers (6-4, 3-3) out of the Top 25.
He rallied the Badgers, who were playing without star running back Anthony Davis, from an early 24-6 deficit, but couldn't prevent his team from losing its third straight.
"Sorgi had a really gutty performance," Badgers coach Barry Alvarez said. "I know he was getting hit a lot when he released the ball. He really toughed it out."
The Gophers also noticed Sorgi's toughness. Minnesota linebacker Ben West said he had several hits on the quarterback.
"I swear he was down, but he got right back up," West said.
The Badgers made it 34-all on Sorgi's 26-yard TD pass to Owen Daniels with 7:15 left to play.
But on the ensuing drive, Kamrath, a fifth-year senior, completed a crucial 22-yard pass to Aaron Hosack on third-and-9 from the Minnesota 33. Barber had 11- and 13-yard runs to the Badgers 21. Maroney added a 3-yard run to the 18, and Minnesota ran the clock to one second to set up Lloyd's winning kick.
"(Mason) was saying, 'If you make this, you get all the pizza you can eat.' And I was like, 'Fair enough," Lloyd said.
The Badgers watched from the sideline as the Gophers carried the Axe away.
"Our trophy case will be empty all year," Wisconsin's Darius Jones said. "That will sit nasty in our mouths."
Sorgi opened the second half with a 17-yard TD pass to Lee Evans to pull the Badgers to 24-20.
Lloyd added a 34-yard field goal, but Wisconsin tied it on the ensuing possession after a costly pass-interference penalty by the Gophers' Ukee Dozier on fourth down.
Two plays later, Sorgi found Darrin Charles for a 12-yard TD pass to make it 27-all.
Minnesota took a 34-27 lead on Barber's 11-yard run at the 11:13 mark of the fourth.
Barber, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark on the season, and Maroney ran for more than 100 yards for the third straight game. Barber has 1,134 for the Gophers.
Wisconsin entered holding Big Ten opponents to an average of 97.8 yards rushing per game. But Minnesota came in as the second-best rushing offense in the nation and gained 336 on the ground.
"I was surprised they ran on us like that," Alvarez said. "But they do it well."
It only took 56 seconds for Minnesota's vaunted running game to score a touchdown. On the third play of the opening drive, Abdul-Khaliq pitched the ball to Maroney, who scampered down the right sideline 30 yards to the end zone to give the Gophers a 7-0 lead.
Lloyd kicked a 34-yard field goal to make it 10-0 at the 7:56 mark.
Abdul-Khaliq gave the Gophers a 17-3 lead on his fourth rushing touchdown of the season.
After another Wisconsin field goal, Minnesota took a 24-6 lead on Thomas Tapeh's 6-yard run with 2:01 to play in the second quarter.
The Badgers finally found the end zone with 1:25 left in the first half when Sorgi found Daniels from 27 yards out to pull Wisconsin to 24-13.