Site: Evanston, Ill. (Ryan Field)
Score: Michigan 28, Northwestern 16
Records: U-M (3-2, 2-0 Big Ten), Northwestern (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, Oct. 6 -- vs. Eastern Michigan (Michigan Stadium), noon
Boxscore | Player Participation | Postgame Notes | Photos
EVANSTON, Ill. -- The University of Michigan football team escaped with a 28-16 victory over the Northwestern Wildcats Saturday afternoon (Sept. 29) on Ryan Field. Trailing for much of the first half, the Wolverines played inspired football in the final two quarters behind the play of senior quarterback Chad Henne(Wyomissing, Pa./Wilson HS), who returned to the lineup after missing two games with an injury, and a defense that forced turnovers on Northwestern's final four possessions.
Henne completed 18-of-27 passes for 193 yards and three scores. Freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett(Texarkana, Ark./Texarkana [Texas] HS) saw action in the first half, completing 5-of-11 passes for 67 yards. Junior receiver Mario Manningham(Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding HS) was the favorite target of both quarterbacks, as he finished with 10 catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. Senior receiver Adrian Arrington(Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Washington HS) complemented Manningham with seven catches for 96 yards and a touchdown. Senior tailback Mike Hart(Syracuse, N.Y./Onondaga Central HS) added 106 yards and a score on 30 carries.
Defensively, senior linebacker Shawn Crable(Massillon, Ohio/Washington HS) led the team with 10 tackles, including five tackles-for-loss, one sack and a forced fumble. Fifth-year senior safety Brandent Englemon(Covington, Ky./Holmes HS) added nine tackles and a pass breakup. Senior linebacker Chris Graham(Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central) pitched in with seven tackles and one pass breakup.
The Wildcats quickly got the ball rolling with a 64-yard pass completion from C.J. Bacher to Rasheed Ward on NU's first play from scrimmage. Ward caught the pass for a short gain, but maintained momentum by rolling over Michigan defenders before he raced to the U-M 16-yard line. The Northwestern drive stalled three plays later due to stingy coverage by the Michigan secondary, forcing NU into a 27-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead at 12:49 in the first quarter.
Seeing his first action in two weeks, Henne started off hot on Michigan's opening possession, converting a third-and-10 with a 15-yard completion to Arrington. Henne continued to move the offense down the field with completions of eight and 14 yards, before finding Manningham for an 11-yard touchdown. On the 11-play, 65-yard drive, Henne accounted for 48 yards on 5-of-7 passing, giving the Wolverines the 7-3 advantage with 8:57 left in the first quarter.
Michigan's lead proved to be short lived as Northwestern responded later in the first half with 13 unanswered points, giving Northwestern a 16-7 halftime lead. The Wildcats' first of three scores came on the feet of running back Omar Conteh, who raced 49-yards for his first career touchdown to cap off a nine-play, 86-yard drive with just less than three-minutes remaining in the first quarter. It was the longest rush the Michigan defense has given up all season. NU added a pair of field goals -- from 49- and 27-yards out -- by Amado Villarreal to close the first half.
Both teams traded possessions at the start of the second half, but Henne returned on fire, connecting with junior tight-end Carson Butler(Detroit, Mich./Renaissance HS) on a five-yard touchdown at 5:45 in the third quarter to cut the NU lead to 16-14. The score came at the end of a 10-play, 77-yard drive that saw Henne complete four-of-four passes for 46 yards. The possession also saw the first big gains of the afternoon for Hart, who tallied 22 yards on four carries.
Still trailing by two midway through the fourth quarter, the Wolverine defensive front turned the game around with a forced Bacher fumble by sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Graham(Detroit, Mich./Crockett Technical HS) and recovery by Crable at the NU 16-yardline. Following the turnover, it took three-plays and 49-seconds before Henne found Arrington on a slant route in the endzone, giving Michigan a 21-16 lead.
The defensive front struck again in the fourth quarter, as senior defensive end Tim Jamison(Riverdale, Ill./Harvey Thorton HS) returned his first career interception to the NU 21-yard line. The Wolverines were not able to convert the turnover into points, however, as senior kicker Jason Gingell(Northville, Mich./Catholic Central HS) missed his second field goal attempt of the afternoon -- this time a 39-yard attempt.
The Wolverines put the game out of reach when sophomore linebacker Obi Ezeh(Grand Rapids, Mich./Catholic Central HS) came away with an interception on the Wildcats' next drive, returning the ball to the NU 26-yard line. The Wolverines punched the ball in for a score on a one-yard Hart rush at 4:31, giving U-M the decisive 28-16 advantage.
Junior defensive tackle Terrance Taylor(Muskegon, Mich./Muskegon HS) closed the contest with a fumble recovery -- due to a sack-and-strip by Crable on Bacher -- on Northwestern's final offensive possession.
Michigan plays its final non-conference game of the season, facing Washtenaw County foe Eastern Michigan next Saturday (Oct. 6) in Michigan Stadium. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network starting at noon EDT.
Media Contact: David Ablauf (734) 763-4423