PASADENA, Calif. -- The No. 3 University of Michigan football team battled UCLA and the hot and humid elements but was unable to come away with the victory, losing 23-20 to the No. 14 Bruins Saturday afternoon (Sept. 16) at the Rose Bowl. The Wolverines (2-1) had their seven-game winning streak snapped by the Bruins (3-0).
Senior tailback Anthony Thomas (Winnfield, La./Winnfield HS) led the offensive for the Wolverines, gaining 182 yards on 24 carries and scoring on a 68-yard run. Thomas scored a touchdown for the 11th consecutive game (41 career TDs) and became the sixth running back in school history to surpass 3,000 career yards (3,158 yards on 666 carries).
Michigan jumped out to 6-0 lead in the first quarter as Thomas ran 68 yards on third-and-one from the U-M 32-yard line for the touchdown. The drive started as Thomas gained nine yards on a first-down screen pass from redshirt freshman quarterback John Navarre (Cudahy, Wis./Cudahy HS). Sophomore fullback B.J. Askew (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain HS) was stopped for no gain on second down, and Thomas took off up the middle for the scoring play. Junior placekicker Hayden Epstein (Cardiff, Calif./Torrey Pines HS) missed the extra-point attempt.
UCLA trimmed the lead to 6-3 on a 29-yard field goal by Chris Griffith early in the second quarter. The scoring drive covered 70 yards in nine plays and took 3:37. The Bruins moved into scoring position with a trick play as Ryan McCann lateraled to wide receiver Brian Poli-Dixon, who stopped and passed downfield to Jon Dubravac for a 32-yard gain to the U-M 15-yard. The Bruins were unable to punch the ball into the end zone and had to settle for the field goal.
Michigan was unable to gain a first down on its next series and was forced to punt. Junior/sophomore Justin Fargas (Encino, Calif./Notre Dame HS) stripped the punt returner and junior/sophomore defensive end Dan Rumishek (Addison, Ill./Trail HS) fell on the ball to give U-M possession at the UCLA 29-yard line. On the initial play after the fumble recovery, Navarre found junior wide receiver David Terrrell (Richmond, Va./Huguenot HS) across the middle in traffic for a 29-yard touchdown and 13-3 lead.
Field temperatures, recorded at 103 degrees at kickoff, rose to 110 degrees to start the second half. UCLA took the second-half kickoff and moved down the field in 14 plays and scored on a five-yard sweep to the right by tailback DeShaun Foster. UCLA moved 80 yards on the scoring drive and took 4:41 off the clock.
Michigan regained its 10-point cushion with 5:32 remaining in the third quarter as freshman tailback Chris Perry (Advance, N.C./Fork Union Military, Va.) scored on a nine-yard sweep to the right. With excellent field position to start the drive, Navarre completed a 37-yard pass to Terrell to move the ball to UCLA's 20-yard line. Thomas rushed on three consecutive plays (6, 3 and 2 yards) to gain a first down and Perry took it in for the score. The five-play scoring drive covered 57 yards in just 1:31.
UCLA responded with a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive that trimmed the lead to 20-17. The touchdown came as McCann rolled left and found Poli-Dixon for a 20-yard TD in the left corner of the end zone. McCann completed 5-of-7 passing attempts for 73 yards on the drive.
The Wolverines moved into UCLA territory early in the fourth quarter but were unable to score as Hayden Epstein pushed a 46-yard field goal attempt wide right.
UCLA threatened to score again, moving into U-M territory as McCann hit Poli-Dixon over the middle for 16 yards. UCLA tailback Ed Ieremia-Stansbury took the pitch from McCann and ran up the middle but junior/sophomore Julius Curry (Detroit, Mich./Bishop Gallagher HS) jarred the ball loose and redshirt freshman defensive end Norman Boebert (Peoria Ariz./Cactus HS) recovered at the U-M 33-yard line.
Michigan was unable to gain a first down and punted away to UCLA. The Bruins took over at their 15-yard line and marched down the field for the go-ahead touchdown as McCann found Stansbury in the left flat for a two-yard touchdown. The Bruins were unable to convert the PAT, leaving the score 23-20 with 6:30 remaining in the fourth quarter. The scoring drive covered seven plays in 85 yards and took 2:53.
The Wolverines were pushed away again as they moved down the field for the game-tying field goal but Epstein missed a 24-yard attempt from the left hash mark. U-M started at its 35-yard line after UCLA kicked off out of bounds. Navarre pitched the ball to Thomas, who flipped it to Fargas going the opposite direction on first down, a play that gained nine yards. Thomas took the second-down toss and ran 41 yards down the left sideline to the UCLA 15-yard line. After three successive rushing attempts by Perry were unable to net a first down, the Wolverines attempted the field goal.
After Michigan's defense held UCLA without a first down, the Bruins were forced to punt. Punter Nate Fiske booted a 57-yard punt and sophomore wide receiver Ronald Bellamy (New Orleans, La./Archbishop Shaw HS) returned the punt 35 yards to the UCLA 38-yard line. After an incomplete pass on first down, Terrell gained 11 yards on a double reverse. On third-and-nine yards from the 26-yard line, Navarre threw across the middle to Terrell but UCLA free safety Jason Stephens stepped in front and intercepted the ball.
UCLA ran out the remaining 1:28 to secure the win.
Michigan opens the Big Ten Conference season next Saturday evening (Sept. 23) at Illinois in a nationally televised primetime game. The game will be show on ESPN beginning at 6:30 p.m. CDT (7:30 p.m. EDT) from Memorial Stadium in Champaign, Ill.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423