Score: Northwestern 21, Michigan 14
Records: U-M (3-8, 2-5 Big Ten), Northwestern (8-3, 4-3 Big Ten)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Nov. 22 -- at Ohio State (Columbus, Ohio), Noon
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team played three solid quarters of football, holding Northwestern to 80 yards of offense in the first half and building a 14-7 lead, but Wildcat quarterback C.J. Bacher threw for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter to seal U-M's fate in a 21-14 loss Saturday (Nov. 15) at Michigan Stadium.
Michigan led 14-7 at the half, outgaining Northwestern's offense 162-80, while the Wolverine defense sacked Bacher twice, intercepted him once and knocked back-up quarterback Mike Kafka out of the game. In the third quarter, Northwestern turned to its passing attack, throwing on eight of its first nine plays for 111 yards and two touchdowns to take a 21-14 lead. Michigan's offense was anemic in the third quarter with just 28 total yards, precipitating a switch from junior/sophomore quarterback Nick Sheridan(Saline, Mich./Saline) to sophomore/freshman quarterback Steven Threet(Adrian, Mich./Adrian/Georgia Tech). Threet drove the offense 21 yards in its first possession of the fourth quarter but was intercepted in the end zone to end the drive. Sheridan subbed in when Threet went down with injury in the next possession, pushing U-M 43 yards but turned the ball over on downs. With one final chance and the ball on the U-M 42, Sheridan threw four incomplete passes to end the game.
Junior running back Carlos Brown(Franklin, Ga./Heard County), who had three carries for four yards this season, returned to the field for the first time in nearly two months, rushing for 115 yards on the day, including 74 in the first half. Sheridan made his second consecutive start, throwing for 61 yards and rushing for 35 yards and a touchdown, while Threet saw spot duty in the third and fourth quarter, completing four of seven passes for 22 yards and rushing for 12.
Michigan's defense picked off a pair of passes and sacked Bacher three times, while its special teams added a touchdown in the second quarter off a blocked punt. Junior/sophomore linebacker Jonas Mouton(Los Angeles, Calif./Venice) led the defense with 11 tackles, including seven in the first half, while junior/sophomore linebacker Obi Ezeh(Grand Rapids, Mich./Catholic Central) had his fourth double-digit tackle game of the year, finishing with 10 stops.
Junior safety Stevie Brown(Columbus, Ind./Columbus East) picked off C.J. Bacher's third-down pass in the Wildcats' opening drive, returning it to the NU eight-yard line, but Michigan's offense stalled and Wildcat Corey Wootton blocked fifth/senior kicker K.C. Lopata's (Farmington, Mich./Farmington) 23-yard attempt to keep the game scoreless.
Northwestern went three and out in their second offensive drive, but a U-M fumble on the punt return set up Stephen Simmons' 21-yard touchdown run, making it 7-0. Michigan tied the score 7-7 on Sheridan's three-yard run at the end of the first, converting a pivotal fourth down at midfield and using 36 rushing yards from Brown to move 61 yards to pay dirt.
Michigan marched 53 yards to the Northwestern 26 on its next possession, but a failed fourth-down attempt turned the ball over to the Wildcats. The defense forced Northwestern to a three and out and sophomore/freshman safety Michael Williams(Santa Yuez, Calif./St. Bonaventure) blocked Stefan Demos' punt, which was scooped up by junior/sophomore wide receiver Ricky Reyes(Macomb, Mich./Dakota) on the three-yard line and returned to the end zone for the score, putting the Wolverines ahead, 14-7.
Michigan started with the ball to open the second half, but senior/junior punter Zoltan Mesko's (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg) punt was partially blocked, giving Northwestern strong field position on the U-M 40. Wide receiver Ross Lane hauled in three passes for 47 yards, including a 17-yard TD pass to tie the score at 14-14. The Wildcats then took the lead in their next series with Bacher hitting wide receiver Eric Peterman up the middle for a 53-yard touchdown pass, making it 21-14.
The defense gave Michigan a lift to begin the fourth quarter when sophomore cornerback Donovan Warren(Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic) intercepted Bacher and returned the ball 15 yards to the NU 44, but Threet was intercepted in the end zone to end the Wolverines' best scoring chance of the period.
Michigan heads to Columbus, Ohio, on Saturday (Nov. 22) to take on Ohio State in the final game of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for noon and will be broadcast on ABC.
Contact: David Ablauf (734) 763-4423