Nov. 10, 2012
Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan Stadium)
Score: Michigan 38, Northwestern 31 (OT)
Records: U-M (7-3, 5-1 Big Ten), NW (7-3, 3-3 Big Ten)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Nov. 17 -- vs. Iowa (Michigan Stadium), Noon (TV: ESPN)
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team used last-minute heroics to send the game to overtime to overcome a 10-point second-half deficit and escape the Northwestern Wildcats (NR AP/No. 21 USA Today Coaches), 38-31, on Saturday (Nov. 10) at Michigan Stadium to stay alive in its quest for a Legends Division title.
Down three points with 18 seconds remaining in the game, junior quarterback Devin Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Inkster) connected with fifth-year senior receiver Roy Roundtree (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) for a 53-yard pickup, leading to a 26-yard field goal by senior/junior kicker Brendan Gibbons (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) with two seconds left to send the game to overtime.
In overtime, Gardner gave Michigan the lead with a one-yard bootleg run on third-and-goal, and then the defense followed with a four-down stand to preserve the victory.
Gardner threw for 286 yards and two scores while also compiling 47 yards and two touchdowns rushing. Senior/junior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) added 92 yards on the ground, while Roundtree and senior/junior receiver Jeremy Gallon (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) combined for 233 yards receiving (Gallon, 7 for 94; Roundtree, 5 for 139).
On the defensive side of the ball, senior/junior safety Thomas Gordon (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech) notched 11 tackles with one tackle-for-loss, while fifth-year senior linebacker Kenny Demens (Oak Park, Mich./Detroit Country Day) and sophomore linebacker Desmond Morgan (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) each garnered nine takedowns.
Michigan received the ball to begin the contest, gained a first down and then was forced to punt the ball to the Wildcats. Northwestern moved the ball down the field, sparked by a one-handed grab on a third-and-long to keep the drive alive, and scored on a three-yard run by Venric Mark to take a 7-0 lead with eight minutes to go in the first quarter.
The Maize and Blue then moved the ball 78 yards on 10 plays -- fueled by a 32-yard reception by Roundtree in Wildcats territory -- capping the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run by Gardner.
On the following Northwestern possession, Michigan forced the Wildcats to a three-and-out. Early in the second quarter, Toussaint broke a 50-yard run but fumbled on the three yard-line to give the ball back to the Wildcats. However, six plays later, freshman linebacker Joe Bolden (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain) pounced on a Northwestern fumble to reclaim possession for Michigan.
On a third-and-long just outside the red zone, Gardner scrambled 17 yards to extend the drive, before sophomore running back Thomas Rawls (Flint, Mich./Flint Northern) dove into the end zone from one yard out to give Michigan a 14-7 advantage with 6:17 left in the first half.
Northwestern then pushed the ball 56 yards down the field and found the end zone on a 19-yard touchdown pass with 25 ticks left to even the score at 14 heading into the locker room.
Northwestern began the second half by taking four minutes off the clock, traveling 75 yards on 10 plays to score its third touchdown of the game.
After a Michigan punt, the Wildcats moved the ball back down the field and connected on their first field goal of the game, from 34 yards out, to extend their lead to 24-10 midway through the third quarter.
On the ensuing Michigan drive, Gardner connected with Gallon on a 42-yard gain and then again with Toussaint on the next play for a 28-yard score to close the gap to 24-21 with 1:43 to go in the third quarter.
The Wildcats threatened on their next possession, moving the ball down the field until a block-in-the-back penalty caused the drive to stall. Michigan took back over at its own nine yard-line after the NU punt and Gardner commanded the offense down the field, completing back-to-back passes to Roundtree to start the drive. Finally, Gardner found freshman tight end Devin Funchess (Farmington Hills, Mich./Harrison) in the back of the end zone to give the Maize and Blue its first lead of the half, 28-24, with 8:45 to go in the game.
After burning almost five minutes, the Wildcats capitalized on an eight-play, 66-yard drive by finding the end zone on a 15-yard touchdown pass to take a 31-28 lead with 3:59 remaining.
Freshman running back Dennis Norfleet (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King) returned the following kickoff 37 yards to the Michigan 42 yard-line but on the first play of the drive, Northwestern picked off a Gardner pass. The Wildcats ran the clock down to 18 seconds, before the Wolverines took back over at their own 38 after a punt to set up the heroics.
On a last-chance heave, Gardner connected with Roundtree for 53 yards. With seven seconds left in the game, Gibbons split the uprights from 26 yards to send the game to overtime, tied at 31-31.
Michigan received the ball first in overtime, and on third-and-goal from the one yard-line, Gardner scored on a bootleg run around the right side to give the Wolverines a 38-31 advantage. On fourth-and-one for Northwestern, Demens dropped the Wildcats ball carrier short of the first-down marker to conclude the game.
Michigan remains in Ann Arbor next Saturday (Nov. 17) to face the Iowa Hawkeyes at noon on ESPN.
Contact: Justin Dickens (734) 763-4423