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Taylor leads No. 4 Wisconsin to rout of Western Kentucky

Wisconsin Badgers running back Jonathan Taylor (23) rushes for a touchdown during the second quarter Friday night against the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers at Camp Randall Stadium. (Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports)

Field Level Media

Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor kicked off his sophomore season Friday night with 145 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries to lead the No. 4 Badgers to a 34-3 win over Western Kentucky at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

Taylor rushed for scores of 47 and 30 yards in the first half. Junior quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw two touchdown passes on the night, completing 17 of 29 passes for 257 yards.

The Badgers (1-0) got on the scoreboard with 7:38 left in the first quarter when Taylor broke two tackles on his 47-yard run to get to the end zone and put Wisconsin up 7-0.

Wisconsin actually got off to a slow start offensively, gaining just 55 yards on 16 plays in the first quarter outside of Taylor's touchdown run. The Badgers' first three possessions resulted in a punt, a touchdown and a punt.

Defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard's group stifled Western Kentucky's offense in the first half, spoiling the first start by redshirt senior quarterback Drew Eckels since high school. The Hilltoppers punted on their first six possessions; four of the first five resulted in a three-and-out.

A penalty on one of those punts in the second quarter gave the Badgers the ball on the Hilltoppers' 35-yard line. And although the offense sputtered, Rafael Gaglianone added a 39-yard field goal to give Wisconsin a 10-0 lead with 8:44 left in the first half.

Taylor's 30-yard scamper, untouched from the line of scrimmage, made the score 17-0 with 3:48 left in the half. After another Western Kentucky punt, the Badgers got the ball back with 1:58 left before the break, and Hornibrook capped an 11-play, 75-yard scoring drive with a 2-yard pass to send the score to 24-0 to end the half.

Taylor sat much of the second half.

Eckels produced 167 yards on 15-of-26 passing for the Hilltoppers.

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