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first_imgDEREK MONTGOMERY/Herald photoORLANDO, Fla. — John Stocco didn’t look like a winning quarterback after four quarters of dealing with Auburn’s harassing defensive front. Sizable grass stains adorned his right shoulder and each of his hips. His left bicep was marked with a raspberry. What gave away Stocco’s role in No. 22 Wisconsin’s 24-10 upset win over No. 7 Auburn in the Capital One Bowl, though, was the broad smile on his face.The junior passed for 301 yards and two touchdowns while completing 15-of-27 attempts to lead the Badgers — along with running back Brian Calhoun and wide receiver Brandon Williams — to a victory over the Tigers at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in head coach Barry Alvarez’s final game on the sidelines.”This feels unbelievable,” Stocco said on the field after the win. “I’m so proud of coach (Alvarez).”Calhoun rushed for 213 yards and a touchdown to earn game Most Valuable Player honors and Williams caught six passes for 173 yards and a touchdown to go along with 35 yards on the ground. But it was Stocco who led Wisconsin in building a 17-0 halftime lead, throwing for both of his touchdowns and directing another scoring drive that ended with a 19-yard field goal from Taylor Mehlhaff in the opening stanza.”He played very well,” said wide receiver Jonathan Orr, who was on the receiving end of four passes from Stocco for 74 yards. “Words can’t even express how well he played. Ever since the last game, ever since Hawaii, just his focus and his will to get a victory in this game was showing, and it rubbed off on the rest of us in practice. He played exceptionally well.”Stocco and the Badgers started fast, jumping out to a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter courtesy of a 30-yard catch-and-run from Stocco to Williams. Auburn, by contrast, looked like a team that hadn’t played since Nov. 19. Quarterback Brandon Cox had his first pass of the game intercepted by Levonne Rowan on the contest’s second snap, and standout running back Kenny Irons fumbled to halt the Tigers’ next possession. Irons finished with 88 yards on 22 carries, the first time he failed to reach the 100-yard barrier since Auburn’s matchup with South Carolina on Oct. 1.”What you try to do on defense is try to take away the other team’s strength, which is our running game,” Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said. “And they pretty much did that.”On the other side of the ball, the Tigers struggled mightily to contain Calhoun, who broke runs of 27, 60 and 33 yards against a defense that entered the matchup having allowed an average of just 104.4 yards per game on the ground.His 33-yard touchdown scamper in the fourth quarter pushed the Wisconsin advantage back to 14 points after Cox had connected with Courtney Taylor to cut the lead to 17-10.But it was Stocco who came up with the clincher. With the Badgers facing a third-and-seven from their own four-yard line, Stocco hit Williams for a 36-yard completion despite throwing from the end zone with defenders at his feet.”I guess it was by far his best game,” Williams said. “He didn’t throw any picks, he had that one little fumble, he didn’t make too many mistakes, his balls were on target most of the game. He was doing a great job of managing the game, and I just give big props to him. He’s just really grown this year as a player, and I’m looking for big things out of him next year.”The completion extended what would prove to be the final drive of the game, ending any hopes of an Auburn comeback. And for a player who has taken his fair share of criticism from the public, the smile Stocco was flashing following the win provided perhaps the biggest answer to those skeptics.”He happens to play the toughest position in sports,” Alvarez said. “Everybody always wants the backup to play, and if you don’t complete a pass, there’s something wrong with you. John Stocco’s tough, he is a competitor … the stage, the magnitude of the game, the quality of the opposition and how well he performed today should squelch any further criticism. I thought he was fantastic.”last_img read more

first_imgSanogo strugglesWith the news that talismanic frontman Olivier Giroud was ruled out for three to four months with a broken tibia, many were wondering who can fill the void for Arsenal.Manager Arsène Wenger bullishly insisted in his pre-match news conference that the squad had more than enough depth to cope with the loss of the Frenchman and that he wouldn’t be dipping into the transfer market for a replacement. In this potentially tricky encounter at the King Power Stadium, Wenger opted to start with the more physical presence of Yaya Sanogo as the lone striker. A frustrating afternoon ensued for the forward as he failed to take opportunities to net for the visitors, due to a combination of poor composure and good goalkeeping. While Wenger has a good record in converting raw talent into superstars, with a notable example being Thierry Henry, the lack of a top quality striker means that the patience of Gunners fans continues to run thin.Ramsey makes his markSince the departure of Cesc Fàbregas to Barcelona in 2011, the Gunners have been searching for a player who fits into the same mould. During last season they looked to have uncovered this as Aaron Ramsey came to the fore, with a combination of speed, skill and quality finishing, as he notched 16 goals in all competitions. His importance to the team was outlined by the fact that during his absence through injury, Arsenal’s win percentage fell to 55. That momentum has continued into 2014-15 with a pair of crucial league strikes against Crystal Palace and Everton. With the inclusion ofSanti Cazorla in the starting line-up, the Welshman was implemented in a deeper role and his impact proved to be a hard-working display. Although much of the talk has centered around signings on the field, the addition of fitness coach Shad Forsythe may prove vital, as he looks to ensure that the exciting talent of Ramsey is available for all of the campaign.Leicester show their stomach for their fightWhen you looked at the fixtures awaiting Nigel Pearson’s side at the start of the Premier League campaign, you may have feared for their survival chances. The Foxes have defied all of their doubters in the opening credits of the season as they have produced a trio of good performances against teams competing for the top four spots. After twice coming from behind on the opening day against Everton and stifling Chelsea and Arsenal for long periods with an organised and energetic approach, Pearson’s team illustrated that they will be difficult to beat. Despite a lack of top-flight experience in their ranks, with a combined total of 550 appearances in their line-up, Leicester have a good team ethic and will look to build on this encouraging start.last_img read more