Minnesota players celebrate beating Wisconsin to retain Paul Bunyan's Axe.

With 26 seconds left in the Minnesota Golden Gophers-Wisconsin Badgers game Saturday, it looked like the Badgers might have a shot at reclaiming the Paul Bunyan’s Axe rivalry trophy. Despite an injury to Wisconsin starting quarterback Graham Mertz, backup Chase Wolf was able to drive the Badgers into position for a game-tying touchdown, and they had first and goal from the Golden Gophers’ five-yard line.

But the Badgers then committed a holding penalty and a false start to push them back to the 20-yard line. And after a Wolf incompletion, Wisconsin committed two more false starts to set up second and goal from the 30. Wolf then threw incomplete there, then completed a five-yard pass to set up fourth and goal from the 25 with five seconds left. But then, he threw high, giving the Golden Gophers the 23-16 win and letting them retain the axe.

The Golden Gophers’ victory here was their second-straight in this game, but only their third in the last 10 clashes for the axe. And while P.J. Fleck‘s Gophers might well have survived if this had gone to overtime, they got a lot of help in it not making it that far from the Badgers’ penalty meltdown.

[ESPN; photo from Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.