Donovan has now won four straight games as a starter, going back to last season, but there is something defining for a quarterback, to huddle the offense in the fourth quarter, needing a touchdown to win the game.
"We knew we needed to put points on the board and take care of what we needed to do," Donovan said Sunday of taking over at the UW 39-yard line, trailing 13-12, with 7 minutes, 33 seconds to play. "There was no doubt in my mind we were going to do it. There was definitely passion in the guys' eyes and a little extra fire you could just feel."
Donovan coolly completed an 8-yard pass to tight end Travis Beckum to start the drive, then connected on a 6-yard pass to Luke Swan on third-and-2 for the initial first down.
Tailback P.J. Hill did a lot of the dirty work, carrying six times for 23 yards and picking up a fourth-and-1 at the Rebels' 38 with a 3-yard run. But it was at the UNLV 29, on first-and-15, following a delay-of-game penalty, that Donovan made what could turn out to be one of the most important plays of the season.
With just about everybody on the defense keying on Hill, UW offensive coordinator Paul Chryst called for naked bootleg by Donovan to the left.
"If you 're a coach up in the box, you tell (the defensive players), 'Hey, here comes 39, here comes 39,' " UW coach Bret Bielema said of Hill's number. "A great call by Paul and ultimately great execution by T.D."
Even though he had told Chryst earlier in the game to give him the ball, Hill was delighted when the bootleg call came. "I loved that play," Hill said. "I was like, It's definitely going to work.' ' '
First, Donovan faked a handoff to Hill, who was going right, along with everybody else on offense except for Swan, who was wide to the left and dragged his defender downfield on a pass route.
When Hill was asked how many defenders were sucked in by the play fake, he smiled and laughed.
"We were watching the film (Sunday) and like the whole defense, line, linebackers," Hill said. "(Donovan) had that one guy to beat and he beat him."
That one guy was linebacker Star Fuimaono, who Donovan initially thought was lined up in the perfect spot to foil the play.
"They had a defense set up that probably could have reacted pretty good to it, with a guy coming off the edge," Donovan said. "That goes back to P.J. doing a good job all day. A lot of their eyes were on P.J."
With Donovan's speed, he had no trouble getting outside of Fuimaono, who made a futile dive. Swan, meanwhile, was downfield at the 15, putting a block on cornerback Geoffery Howard.
That's a hard block to make, since it's out in the open, where holding calls are often made, and lasts for a couple of seconds.
After Donovan got past the block, he was in a race with cornerback Mil'Von James for the end zone. Donovan made an incredible leap from the 3, reaching out the ball with his right hand to swat the pylon for a touchdown with 1:53 left.
Courtesy of Tom Mulhern from today's Wisconsin State Journal: