As bad as they felt for Quintez Cephus, there wasn’t time for the other wide receivers on the University of Wisconsin football team to mope around this week.
They had work to do.
“We’re all playmakers,” freshman Danny Davis said, “and we just wanted to go out there and make plays.”
Davis and Co. did just that Saturday afternoon at Camp Randall Stadium, playing a pivotal role in the No. 6 Badgers’ 38-14 victory over Iowa.
Redshirt freshman Kendric Pryor scored the first two touchdowns of his career, one on the ground and one through the air.
Davis finished with four catches for 74 yards, both career highs.
Sophomore A.J. Taylor only had one reception for five yards, but it resulted in a touchdown that put an exclamation point on UW’s victory.
There was one more contribution that won’t show up in the box score but was important enough to be mentioned by UW coach Paul Chryst in his postgame news conference: a key block by redshirt freshman Adam Krumholz, a Stoughton native, on an 8-yard touchdown run by Bradrick Shaw that gave the Badgers (10-0, 7-0 Big Ten) a 31-14 cushion.
Add it all up, and it was a dandy collaborative effort that helped the Badgers make up for the loss of Cephus, a sophomore who underwent season-ending leg right leg surgery earlier in the week. Cephus leads the Badgers with 501 receiving yards and six touchdowns receptions.
“We’ve just got to go out there and make plays like he did,” Davis said, “and do it for him.”
Both of Pryor’s touchdowns came in the second quarter and helped send UW to the locker room with a 17-7 halftime lead.
The first came on a 25-yard run on an end around. When Pryor turned the corner, he had two road graders in front of him: center Tyler Biadasz pancaked Iowa cornerback Manny Rugamba, and right guard Beau Benzschawel cleared a path to the end zone for Pryor.
“When I saw Tyler knock the corner down,” Pryor said, “I was like, ‘Thank you,’ in my mind. ‘Thank you, I’m going to score my first touchdown.’”
Later in the quarter, Pryor again showed off his athleticism by hauling in a 12-yard touchdown pass despite having Rugamba draped all over him.
The play drew raves from his teammates.
“That boy’s got a high vertical,” Davis said. “You’ll see more of those from him.”
“It looked like he jumped three times,” quarterback Alex Hornibrook said. “He was hanging up in the air for like five seconds.”
There was another way to describe Pryor’s catch: Cephus-like.
“I feel like if he throws it to me,” Pryor said, “it’s my responsibility to go make the catch.”
Three of Davis’ catches moved the chains on third down. The best came early in the fourth quarter, a 28-yarder along the sidelines in which Davis somehow got a foot down as he fell down.
The grab gave UW a first-and-goal at the Iowa 10. Two plays later, Shaw scored.
“The way Danny was able to move his body to make that catch,” Hornibrook said, “is pretty impressive.”
It was one of several impressive plays from a young group against Iowa (6-4, 3-4). According to Pryor, it was all part of their mission.
“Show them we’ve still got ammo,” Pryor said. “Just because Q’s down, we can still go out there and make plays and just do big-time things.”