MADISON - A bright future for Penn State emerged on a cool, crisp day in the Midwest.
Strong-armed freshman quarterback Christian Hackenberg figures to only improve for the Nittany Lions.
Hackenberg played with the poise and touch of a seasoned veteran, throwing for 339 yards and four touchdowns, and Penn State pounced on a slew of Badgers blunders before holding off a late rally to upset No. 15 Wisconsin 31-24 on Saturday.
"He really stepped up in a big way, and words can't describe how thankful I am to that guy," said offensive lineman and senior leader John Urschel.
An up-and-down season -- from the 20-point loss at Indiana to the overtime win over Michigan -- ended on a high note in the most unlikely of places, at Camp Randall Stadium on Senior Day against a Wisconsin team on the cusp of eligibility for an at-large berth in a Bowl Championship Series game.
Say goodbye to the BCS, Badgers.
"That's not going to happen and so we'll move forward. Such is life," coach Gary Andersen said. "The way we played today and the way I coached them, obviously, we don't deserve to have that opportunity. It's gone now."
Two more freshmen had big days for Penn State (7-5, 4-4 Big Ten). Eugene Lewis finished with 91 yards and two touchdowns on three catches, including a 59-yarder with 13 minutes to go to give the Nittany Lions a 31-14 lead. Adam Breneman had 78 yards on three receptions, including a 68-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown that set the tone for the day on the game's opening drive.
The Nittany Lions secured a statement win against a team that had been dominant all year at home. They were listed as 24-point underdogs among Las odds-makers, and prognosticators consistently predicted a Badgers blowout.
Coach Bill O'Brien made sure his players knew about their underdog status all week. A sizable chip was planted on the Nittany Lions' collective shoulders.
"I'm not allowed to talk about that even though it seems like a lot of you guys thought it was the right line," O'Brien told reporters after the game. "You're wrong."
Joel Stave was 29 of 53 for 339 yards and three touchdowns for Wisconsin (9-3, 6-2), though Penn State capitalized on three second-half interceptions, turning one into Lewis' long TD.
The Badgers scored 10 points in a span of 1:25 of the fourth quarter, capped by a 48-yard field goal by Jack Russell with 4:13 left to get within a score. Sam Ficken's 31-yard field-goal try went wide right with 31 seconds left to give the Badgers one more chance.
But a Hail Mary attempt by Stave was intercepted by Ryan Keiser in the end zone with 1 second left.
"Both elation and relief," linebacker Mike Hull said in describing the moment. "We made it closer than we had to, but we got the win and that's all that matters."
Penn State clinched a winning season and did it on the road, where they had struggled all year in Big Ten play. That's quite an accomplishment for a program that's typically dressed about 60 recruited scholarship players as a result of NCAA sanctions resulting from the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.
O'Brien's team can't go to a bowl game because of the sanctions. But Penn State will nevertheless ride into the offseason on a high note for a second straight year after a win over the Badgers. Penn State beat Wisconsin 24-21 in an overtime thriller to end the 2012 season.
The Badgers only have themselves to blame. They were uncharacteristically prone to mental errors and mistakes.
"I can't sit back and say we had a bad week of practice, can't sit back and say I didn't feel like we were prepared," Andersen said. "I'm going to say it again, I give a lot of credit to Penn State."
A high pass from Stave off the fingertips of Jared Abbrederis was picked off by Trevor Williams, who returned it 33 yards to the Penn State 38. Three plays later, Hackenberg let go a deep pass after absorbing a hit from Brendan Kelly that landed in the arms of a streaking Lewis over double coverage for a touchdown and 31-14 lead in the fourth.
A Wisconsin defense that hadn't allowed a play longer than 51 yards entering Saturday allowed an astounding four for at least 52 against Penn State.
Hackenberg was 13 of 16 for 221 yards and two touchdowns alone in the first half, the second coming to a wide-open Lewis from 3 yards.
WOODRUFF - The Olympics might be over, but the Paralympics are underway in Sochi. Teachers at one local school are using the Olympic spirit to teach students about other countries.
Students at North Country Montessori celebrated International Day Friday morning. The students learn about different countries throughout the school year.
"The children at Montessori do a huge unit on geography and world culture, and we used today as a way to express the information that we found and things that we've learned," says North Country Montessori director Candice Henderson.
This year's theme was the Sochi Olympics.
Each student dressed up as a different country and sang songs in Russian.
This was the school's 30th annual International Day celebration. It ended with a potluck meal featuring ethnic food from different countries.
ST. GERMAIN - We all love our favorite sports teams. But what would happen if you had to dress up in your rival's gear? That's exactly what happened to Bears fan, Jerry Healy.
He's the janitor at St. Germain Elementary School. Healy challenged the students to raise over $700 for charity. If they did he'd wear the green and gold.
“Mr Healy you're unbelievable thank you for doing this,” says Jerry Healy, St. Germain Elementary School Janitor. “One kid said, "all this is disgusting Mr. Healy,” and another little kid who's a diehard Packers fan came up he came up and he's got an orange and blue pair of pants on and goes I'm a bears fan, today you're a packer fan, and that was pretty cool he's in second grade.”
As you can see the students surpassed the goal. The money went to pennies for patients. It’s an organization that supports people diagnosed with leukemia. The challenge brought the whole school together.
“Well I think they rose to the occasion they understood they're helping others in an easy but fun way. They came together as a class, as a whole school and just had a lot of fun with it,” says Jeff Waltz, a third grade teacher at St. Germain Elementary School.
This wasn't the first time Jerry got to dress up as a Packers fan. He did the same thing a few years ago when students accomplished a reading goal.
VILAS COUNTY - More people today use maps on their phones when traveling, but some people still like those paper maps.
The Vilas County GIS just made 15 maps of the area. They give people the option to download and print them at home. A map of Boulder Junction even won an award at the 27th annual Wisconsin land Information Association conference in Middleton.
“There was a lot of interest in creating a portable, easy to use map atlas that responders, town crew, delivery entities, could take out in the field with them and find any address point any road name any water body,” says Rebecca Nordine, Vilas County GIS Specialist. “Something that they could bring out along out in the field with them.”
The atlases will give people an easier way of looking up addresses across Vilas County.
“We do offer up online mapping and that's great but if you get into an area where there's no cell phone or no internet service you'll need something a map or paper map to fall back on,” says Nordine.
Each atlas will be updated at the beginning of the year.
To download a copy of the atlases for FREE you can visit: http://vcgis.co.vilas.wi.us/vcom/.
RHINELANDER - Wisconsin will get a new state attorney general this election year.That could mean new changes for the department.
But many of the candidates agree that more needs to be done to deal with heroin in Wisconsin.
Police and prosecutors say the drug continues to spread throughout the state. Republican candidate Brad Schimel, Waukesha County district attorney, believes heroin and opiates are one of the state’s biggest challenge.
"We're seeing more people die from accidental drug overdoses than we're seeing in car crashes," Schimel said. "That is a dangerous statistic for us to be looking at."
According to a Gannet Wisconsin Investigative study, at least 199 people died in 2012 in Wisconsin from drug overdoses.
The legislature has passed several bills this session to fight heroin and help people who are addicted to the drug.
State Rep. Jon Richards-(D) Milwaukee, is one of three Democratic candidates running for attorney general. He believes the state needs to keep going after drug traffickers.
"Local prosecutors and law enforcement are already stretched to the max in terms of their man power," Richards said. "We have to be addressing these new problems of public safety in creative ways and effective ways."
Democratic candidates Susan Happ and Ismael Ozanne were not available before running this story.
Richards was touring the Northwoods Friday talking to media and district attorneys in the area.
The Democratic primary is set for August 12th. Election day is Nov. 4, 2014.
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