ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 13-ranked (AP, No. 10 ESPN/USA Today) University of Michigan football team opened its 2002 season today (Saturday, Aug. 31) with a last-second 31-29 win over No. 11/9 Washington. Michigan placekicker Philip Brabbs (Midland, Mich./H.H. Dow HS) connected on Michigan's first successful field goal of the game, from 44 yards, after the Maize and Blue failed in three prior attempts.
A Washington touchdown and missed two-point conversion gave the Huskies a one-point lead, 29-28, with 1:24 remaining in the game. Michigan moved quickly into UW territory with steady gains and a 19-yard reception by Tyrece Butler (Indianapolis, Ind./Decatur Central HS). The Wolverines secured a 27-yard field goal attempt after failing on third-and-one, but senior/junior placekicker Troy Nienberg's (Glandorf, Ohio/Ottawa Glandorf HS) kick was wide right.
Michigan's defense clamped down on the Huskies, forcing UW back to its own 13-yard line with Dan Rumishek's (Addison, Ill./Addison Trail HS) sack. Michigan regained the ball with 57 seconds on the clock at its own 41 after a Washington punt. Navarre moved the ball through the air and a Braylon Edwards (Detroit, Mich./Bishop Gallagher HS) fumble with 27 seconds left was recovered by Butler, earning the Wolverines a first down. With six seconds on the clock, following two incomplete pass attempts, an illegal participation penalty on the Huskies moved Michigan into field goal range, where Brabbs made the Maize and Blue's first field goal in four tries to give U-M the win, 31-29.
Michigan struck quickly at the start of both the first and second quarters. It took the Wolverines just two plays on their first drive to reach the end zone, as Perry busted through the Washington line for a 57-yard touchdown run that put Michigan ahead by seven 1:48 into the game.
Following a successful third-down conversion to begin the second quarter, Navarre went deep, sending the ball 45 yards downfield into the hands of Edwards. The scoring play was Edwards' first touchdown of his career.
Midway through the second quarter, a pass-interference call on Marlin Jackson (Sharon, Pa./Sharon HS) swung the game's momentum in favor of Washington. The Huskies took advantage of the U-M lull, converting on fourth-and-one following a 20-yard completion to sophomore Reggie Williams. UW's quarterback, Cody Pickett, passed for a three-yard touchdown five plays later, but a missed point-after left the score 14-6.
Kai Ellis' recovery of a Perry fumble two plays into Michigan's following possession gave Washington the ball only 25 yards out of the end zone. Alexis finished off the short scoring drive with a run off the right tackle to bring the score to 14-13 at 6:42, barely one minute after the Huskies scored their first points.
Washington took to the air following a short Wolverine possession with three passes for over 13 yards each. Jackson's defense on a third-and-goal pass to Williams forced UW to kick a field goal. On the kick, Carl Diggs (Warren, Ohio/Harding HS) got his hand on the ball as Michigan's field goal block team broke through the line. Shantee Orr (Detroit, Mich./Denby HS) recovered the ball.
Michigan moved the ball quickly downfield to set up a 42-yard field goal opportunity with four seconds remaining in the half, but Brabbs' second field goal miss of the afternoon left Michigan empty-handed.
Washington took its first lead, 20-14, five minutes into the third quarter when sophomore receiver Charles Frederick caught the ball in double coverage and ran it across the goal line for a 51-yard scoring play.
Retaking the lead, Michigan's offense converted three third-down situations on a nine-play, 74-yard drive. Navarre passes to Butler (22 yards) and Askew (30 yards) on third down maintained Michigan's forward momentum. Perry's two-yard touchdown burst on third-and-inches allowed Michigan to jump ahead 21-20 at 5:30.
A 30-yard Washington field goal with 41 seconds in the third quarter was the fourth lead change of the afternoon.
With five first downs in eight plays, Michigan moved the ball quickly downfield and took a 28-23 lead. Perry's three-yard score, his third of the game, pushed the sophomore tailback over the 100-yard mark for only the second time in his career.
Washington responded as Alexis neatly tripled the Huskies' rushing output with a 59-yard break up the UW sideline. Alexis finished off the drive two plays later after running a toss from Pickett one yard into the end zone. Washington missed the two-point conversion and kept the slight one-point lead, 29-28, with 8:24 remaining before the Wolverines began their come-from-behind heroics.
The Wolverines take on Western Michigan next Saturday (Sept. 7) at Michigan Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 12:10 p.m. on ESPN Regional.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423