EVANSTON, Ill. -- Junior kicker Garrett Rivas (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit HS) matched his career high with four field goals as the No. 25 University of Michigan football team downed its third nationally ranked opponent of the Big Ten Conference season, defeating No. 21 Northwestern by a 33-17 score Saturday night (Oct. 29) at Ryan Field. The Wolverines (6-3, 4-2 Big Ten) held the ball for a season-best 38:01 and gained a season-high 253 yards on the ground, and the defense held the Wildcats (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) scoreless in the second half.
Junior tailback Jerome Jackson (Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw HS) led the Wolverine offensive attack with his first career 100-yard rushing game, carrying the ball a career-best 24 times for 105 yards. Freshman tailback Kevin Grady (Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids HS) added 64 yards on 20 carries. Sophomore quarterback Chad Henne (Wyomissing, Pa./Wilson HS) completed 17-of-30 passes for 174 yards and one touchdown. Senior wide receiver Jason Avant (Chicago, Ill./Carver HS) returned to his home state and caught a team-leading five passes for 67 yards.
Defensively, the Wolverines held the Wildcats scoreless in the second half and collected three turnovers in the game. U-M forced five straight three-and-outs by Northwestern in the second half and stopped two fourth-down plays in the fourth quarter. Junior inside linebacker Prescott Burgess (Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding HS) led the team with seven tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass breakup. Junior cornerback Leon Hall (Vista, Calif./Vista HS) added six stops, one forced fumble and an 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
The Wolverines took the opening kickoff and marched 74 yards in nine plays and gained a 7-0 lead as Grady scored on a one-yard touchdown run over left tackle. Grady rushed four times for 24 yards on the drive and converted a key third-and-three play with an 18-yard run up the middle. Henne completed passes of eight and 23 yards to Avant, and freshman receiver Mario Manningham (Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding HS) took a lateral from Henne and followed his blockers down the right sideline 20 yards to the one-yard line.
Michigan grabbed a 14-0 lead at 9:07 of the first quarter as the defense scored its first touchdown of the season on an 83-yard fumble return for a touchdown by Hall. Hall stripped tailback Tyrell Sutton of the ball, got up, picked up the ball and ran a school-record distance for the TD.
The Wildcats answered 37 seconds after Michigan's score with a 62-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brett Basanez to wide receiver Mark Philmore. Northwestern opened the two-play, 80-yard touchdown drive with an 18-yard pass play from Basanez to wide receiver Shaun Herbert.
Northwestern trimmed the deficit to 14-10 at 12:39 of the second quarter on a 28-yard field goal by kicker Joel Howells. The Wildcats moved 54 yards in nine plays and consumed 2:14. Basanez went three-of-five for 18 yards, and running back Brandon Roberson added the key play on a 33-yard run around the left side of the formation.
Michigan answered the Northwestern field goal with one of its own as Rivas converted from 26 yards out. The Wolverines began the drive with runs of five, eight and three yards from Jackson that pushed the ball to midfield. Henne completed a 12-yard pass to a spinning Avant, and freshman wide receiver Antonio Bass (Jackson, Mich./Jackson HS) gained eight yards on a reverse. Grady gained 18 yards on a screen pass and ran for three yards on a first down play at the 15-yard line. The drive stalled following a pair of incomplete passes at the 12-yard line.
The Wolverines increased their lead to 24-10 as sophomore tight end Mike Massey (Brecksville, Ohio/St. Ignatius HS) caught a pass in the left flat and crossed the goal line for the first time in his career. The 10-yard touchdown pass from Henne capped an 11-play drive that covered 71 yards in 4:22. Henne completed five-of-six passes for 57 yards and added a pair of two-yard runs.
Michigan increased its lead to 27-10 as Rivas connected on a 19-yard field goal with 58 seconds left in the first half. The Wolverines gained possession two plays after its last score as fifth-year senior cornerback Grant Mason (Pontiac, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's HS) intercepted a Basanez pass at the Wildcats' 28-yard line. U-M moved 26 yards in six plays and gained a first-and-goal opportunity at the five-yard line following a 20-yard run by senior wide receiver Steve Breaston (North Braddock, Pa./Woodland Hills HS) on a lateral. Jackson added six yards on four carries.
The Wildcats made the score 27-17 at half as Basanez completed a 34-yard touchdown pass to Philmore in the right corner of the end zone with 11 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Basanez completed four-of-six passes for all 80 yards on the 47-second scoring drive, including his second TD pass to Philmore in the game.
Both teams were held scoreless in the third quarter. Michigan had two opportunities deep in Northwestern territory but was unable to sustain drives. The Wolverines failed to convert on a fourth-and-six play at the 24-yard line and Henne had his third-down pass across the middle intercepted by linebacker Tim McGarigle and returned 16 yards to the 36-yard line. Michigan's defense held Northwestern to four three-and-outs during the third quarter.
The Wolverines increased their lead to 30-17 as Rivas connected on a 38-yard field goal at 13:29 of the fourth stanza. The Wolverines gained all 38 yards on the ground with Grady opening the series with a 13-yard run into Northwestern territory. U-M started the 11-play scoring drive at its 42-yard line following an 18-yard punt return by Breaston that moved him into third place on the Big Ten's career punt return yardage list.
Rivas added his fourth field goal of the game, a 28-yarder, at 7:11 of the fourth quarter to create the final margin.
Michigan has a week off before finishing the season with a pair of home games. The Wolverines resume their conference schedule against Indiana on Saturday, Nov. 12. The game time and television network have not been determined for the game.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423