Wisconsin's Mormon quarterback accomplishes Rose Bowl mission
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Darrell Bevell, the returned missionary/quarterback who helped improve the University of Wisconsin's football fortunes, boosted the Badgers to a new pinnacle with a game-winning touchdown run in the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day.
Bevell's 21-yard scramble four minutes into the fourth quarter led to a 21-16 Wisconsin win over PAC-10 champion UCLA."I couldn't believe it," said Bevell in a telephone conversation from Scottsdale, Ariz., where he was visiting his family before returning to school in Wisconsin. Previous to this year's Rose Bowl, he had never run for as many as 21 yards on a single play. "After I got into the end zone, I was laughing. My teammates were laughing. It was one of the greatest moments in my life."
Wisconsin was hanging onto a 14-10 lead before Bevell's key run. He gave the Badgers the cushion they needed to withstand a late UCLA touchdown.
Bevell's journey from Chaparral High School in Scottsdale to the end zone in the Rose Bowl took some unique twists. (See Dec. 18, 1993, Church News for profile on Bevell.) He redshirted a season at Northern Arizona University and then served two years in the Ohio Cleveland Mission. After sitting out the 1991 season, he joined the Wisconsin team as a 22-year-old freshman and took over the starting role in the second game of the 1992 campaign. He is 15-6-1 as a starter.
Bevell said the Rose Bowl win - Wisconsin's first in four tries - gave him a chance to talk to the media about the Church.
"All the reporters were interested in my religion and my mission," he said. "They wanted to know what I did on my mission and why I went to Cleveland instead of to Australia or somewhere like that.
"I enjoyed them asking questions about the Church. It was a chance to do a little missionary work."
The 10-1-1 Badgers finished the season ranked as high as fifth in the nation in post-season polls.
Bevell's Rose Bowl statistics weren't spectacular - he completed 10 of 20 passes for 96 yards and ran with the ball only the one time. But he was steady, and made some key plays including the touchdown run which was set up by a UCLA fumble - one of six Bruin turnovers. He kept the Badgers' first touchdown drive alive by completing a 13-yard pass under the heavy pressure of a UCLA blitz.
His future at Wisconsin looks bright, but for now, Bevell is savoring the Rose Bowl triumph.
"I don't go out there to play a game without making sure I say a prayer," he said. "And I always want to play my best. I definitely played my best in the Rose Bowl."