ANN ARBOR, Mich.
-- Trailing 27-10 with 8:43 remaining in the fourth quarter, the No. 12 University of Michigan football team fought back to defeat Michigan State 45-37 in triple overtime Saturday (Oct. 30) in front of 111,609 fans at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines used fourth-quarter scoring drives of 15 and 14 seconds, respectively, to tie the game at 27-27 with 2:59 left in regulation, and senior tight end Tim Massaquoi(Allentown, Pa./Parkland HS)
hauled in the two-point conversion after a Braylon Edwards(Detroit, Mich./Bishop Gallagher HS)
touchdown in the final overtime period to allow Michigan to remain undefeated in Big Ten Conference play at 6-0. With the victory, U-M retains the Paul Bunyan Trophy and evens the Pontiac Challenge Cup standings for the fall season at 2.5 points apiece.
Edwards accounted for 18 of the Wolverines' final 32 points in the comeback win. Freshman quarterback Chad Henne(Wyomissing, Pa./Wilson HS) finished the game with 273 yards on 24-of-35 passing and a career-high four touchdowns. Edwards had a career game for U-M, finishing with 11 catches for 189 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, including the two fourth-quarter scores that brought the Wolverines back from the 17-point deficit and forced overtime. Junior wide receiver Jason Avant (Chicago, Ill./Carver HS) caught five passes for 47 yards, including a huge touchdown grab in the second overtime. Freshman tailback Michael Hart(Syracuse, N.Y./Onondaga Central HS) also scored a touchdown had 33 carries for 224 yards, becoming the first player in Michigan history to rush for 200 yards in three consecutive games.
The Spartans won the overtime coin toss and elected to start on defense, with the Wolverines beginning with the ball on the 25-yard line to begin overtime. Hart picked up a four-yard run and Henne hit Edwards for another four yards, setting up sophomore Garrett Rivas' (Tampa, Fla./Jesuit HS) 34-yard field goal to give U-M its first lead of the game, 30-27.
Michigan State had an easier time moving the ball toward the end zone on its first overtime possession and was just four yards away from a touchdown and victory, but fifth-year senior outside linebacker Roy Manning(Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw HS) stepped up and made a huge tackle on Cobb for a loss of two yards on third down. Rayner converted a 23-yard field goal on fourth down to send the game to a second overtime.
The Spartans reclaimed a 37-30 advantage with a three-yard run by Jason Teague to start the second extra session. Michigan answered with a five-yard touchdown reception by Avant. On third down at the MSU five-yard line, Henne lofted a pass to the back right corner of the end zone, where Avant rose above two defenders, brought down the ball and landed with one foot inbounds. Rivas tacked on the PAT tie the score at 37-37 and send the game into a third overtime.
The Wolverines went back on top 43-37 when Henne found Edwards across the middle for a 24-yard touchdown on third-and-nine. U-M then converted on the two-point conversion -- required starting in the third OT -- as Henne fired the ball up the middle through traffic to Massaquoi in the back of the end zone for a 45-37 lead.
Michigan State committed a crucial pass interference call on second down that put the ball on the U-M 40-yard line. The game eventually came down to fourth-and-eight from the 23-yard line, and Damon Dowdell's pass to Aaron Alexander in the left corner of the end zone was broken up by senior cornerback Markus Curry(Detroit, Mich./Bishop Gallagher HS) to preserve the comeback win for the Wolverines.
The Spartans took an early 7-0 lead at 11:25 of the first quarter, as tailback DeAndra Cobb broke through the middle and ran 72 yards untouched for a touchdown on Michigan State's opening possession. The drive used up just 1:37 on the clock and covered 80 yards in four plays, with Cobb opening with a seven-yard run from the MSU 15-yard line and quarterback Drew Stanton completing a pair of passes to wide receiver Matt Trannon for six yards.
Michigan answered on the ensuing drive with a seven-yard touchdown from Hart. The Wolverines broke into Michigan State territory thanks to a pass interference call on Jason Harmon that moved the ball to the MSU 42-yard line. Edwards took over from there, collecting 22 yards on a reverse up the right sideline for a first down at the Spartan 20-yard line. Hart earned another 13-yard rush following Edwards' reception, and then capped off the eight-play, 80-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown run to put U-M on the scoreboard at 7:50 of the first quarter.
The Michigan State offense answered the call once again, marching 79 yards down the field before Stanton put the Spartans ahead 14-7 on a five-yard touchdown run. Stanton got the drive started with a 15-yard pass to Terry Love, then followed with a 21-yard completion to Eric Knott that put the ball on Michigan's 43-yard line. Stanton kept the ball on the next three plays, combining for 17 yards on three rushes to move the ball down to the 26-yard line. The Spartans eventually reached the U-M five-yard line after a pass interference call on senior cornerback Grant Mason(Pontiac, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's HS), and Stanton capped the 11-play drive with a five-yard rushing touchdown.
The Wolverines were forced to punt after going three-and-out on their next drive, and senior Adam Finley's (Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove HS) kick was blocked by Marshall Campbell and downed at the U-M 30-yard line. Senior inside linebacker Scott McClintock (Belle Vernon, Pa./Belle Vernon HS) collected two straight tackles, one for a five-yard loss, during the possession, forcing MSU to try for a field goal from the 33-yard line. Dave Raynor's 50-yard attempt sailed wide right and time eventually ran out on the first-quarter clock.
Michigan State increased its lead to 17-7 with a 22-yard field goal by Rayner at 9:10 of the second quarter. The 10-play, 84-yard drive was highlighted by a 19-yard draw play by Stanton, followed by a 29-yard reception by Jason Randall that put the ball on Michigan's 19-yard line. Stanton continued to produce on ground, earning a 15-yard rush to bring MSU within four yards of the end zone. Michigan's defense held its own in the red zone, as junior defensive end Jeremy Van Alstyne(Greenwood, Ind./Center Grove HS) and McClintock stopped a Stanton rush for no gain, and sophomore outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley(Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw HS) stuffed Cobb for a five-yard loss on third-and-goal.
U-M went three-and-out on its next drive, which included a 10-yard sack by Ronald Stanley that put the ball back on the Michigan 13-yard line and set up fourth down. The Wolverine defense forced Michigan State to punt for the first time at 5:48 after an MSU holding call created a third-and-long on the U-M 46-yard line.
The Maize and Blue trimmed the deficit to 17-10 before the first-half clock expired, as Rivas connected on a 34-yard field goal with 49 seconds left. The seven-play drive covered 38 yards, with Henne hitting Avant and Edwards with a pair of 11-yard receptions on first down before Edwards hauled in a 19-yard pass to move U-M to the Spartan 17-yard line.
On Michigan's first offensive possession of the second half, Hart carried the ball 24 yards on first down into MSU territory at the 32-yard line. After another Hart rush for six yards, Henne found Edwards on the right sideline, but a tackle by Jaren Hayes popped the ball loose and Eric Smith recovered the fumble at the 21-yard line before it went out of bounds.
The Spartans nearly caused another turnover on U-M's next drive, as Henne fumbled the ball at his own 22-yard line after being hit by Clifford Dukes on third down. Right tackle Jake Long(Lapeer, Mich./East HS) was able to dive on the loose ball and recover for Michigan, but the play resulted in a 13-yard loss and a punt situation for the Wolverines.
Beginning with good field position at the Michigan 45-yard line, Dowdell found Alexander for 22 yards on first down to put Michigan State on the U-M 23-yard line. The Wolverine defense held on third-and-four, with junior tackle Larry Harrison(Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King HS) wrapping up Dowdell a yard short of the first-down marker. Rayner's field goal from 19 yards out was good and put MSU on top 20-10 with 13:30 remaining in the game.
Following another stalled Michigan drive, Michigan State went up 27-10 with a 64-yard touchdown run from Cobb. Dowdell started things off with an 11-yard completion to Agim Shabaj on first down. A Spartan holding penalty on third down put the ball on their own 36-yard line, where Cobb took the handoff and converted on another long scoring run with 8:43 left.
The Wolverines cut the deficit to 27-13 after a 24-yard field goal by Rivas with 6:27 to go in the game. The nine-play drive featured a 46-yard reception by Edwards that put U-M on the Spartan 12-yard line. The ensuing on-side kick was recovered by Brian Thompson(Saginaw, Mich./Nouvel Catholic HS) and gave Michigan the ball back on its own 38-yard line.
Just two plays and 15 seconds later, Michigan found itself down by just seven points, 27-20, as Henne threw a 36-yard touchdown to Edwards in the right corner of the end zone. Hart opened the short drive with an 11-yard reception before Edwards made a miraculous touchdown grab by snagging the ball away from a Spartan defender to put U-M within striking distance with 6:12 left.
Two crucial MSU penalties caused the Spartans to punt on fourth-and-17 with 3:24 remaining in the contest. The Wolverines continued their late-game heroics with another touchdown drive that took just 14 second on two plays. Edwards found paydirt once again, reeling in a 21-yard pass from Henne in the back of the end zone to tie the game at 27-27 with 2:59 on the clock.
Despite a 25-yard run by Cobb, which brought the Spartans near midfield, Michigan's defense forced MSU to punt once again, and junior wide receiver Steve Breaston(North Braddock, Pa./Woodland Hills HS) let the ball sail into the end zone for a touchback. The Wolverines were unable to put anything together, and the Spartans reclaimed possession on the 50-yard line with three seconds left. A pass interference call on sophomore cornerback Leon Hall(Vista, Calif./Vista HS) put the ball on the Michigan 35-yard line and gave Rayner a shot to win the game with a 51-yard field goal, but his attempt fell short and U-M headed into its first overtime session since a 27-24 home victory against Penn State on Oct. 12, 2002.
Michigan has a bye week prior to its final home game of the season against Northwestern on Saturday, Nov. 13. Game time and television network have not been determined.
Media Contacts: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423