ANN ARBOR, Mich.
-- After trailing for most of the game, the No. 10 University of Michigan football team rallied from a seven-point deficit with two touchdowns in the final 16 minutes to defeat Big Ten Conference rival Ohio State 24-17 on Saturday (Nov. 20) at Michigan Stadium in the Wolverines' final game of the regular season.
Senior quarterback Tom Brady (San Mateo, Calif./Serra HS) capped off Michigan's final two scoring drives with touchdown passes, the second coming when he hit Marquise Walker (Syracuse, N.Y./Henniger HS) on a 10-yard play with just 5:01 left in the game. Brady had drawn the Wolverines even with an eight-yard scoring strike to tight end Shawn Thompson (Saginaw, Mich./Nouvel HS) with 37 seconds left in the third quarter.
An NCAA-record 111,575 fans were in attendance at the Big House, breaking the previous record set in the Notre Dame at Michigan contest set earlier this season (Sept. 4). With the victory, U-M improved to 9-2 overall (6-2 in the Big Ten) and finished with a 7-2-1 mark against the Buckeyes in the 1990s. Ohio State falls to 6-6 overall, 3-5 Big Ten.
The first quarter saw a defensive battle at the start. Michigan received the kickoff to start the game but was forced to punt after three plays. Strong Michigan defense shut down Ohio State on its first possession, and the Buckeyes were forced to punt after moving the ball just across midfield.
After a Michigan punt on their next possession, the Buckeyes started their second possession at their own 49-yard line. On third-and-six from the Michigan 32, running back Michael Wiley ran around the right end for 26 yards to the Michigan six-yard line. Two plays later, on second-and-goal, tight end Kevin Houser caught a pass from quarterback Steve Bellisari at the two and broke free to cross the goal line for the game's first score and a 7-0 Buckeye advantage.
In the second quarter, the Wolverines marched back on their fourth possession to even up the score. Michigan utilized a ball-control attack en route to a 70-yard, 11-play drive. On second-and-nine from the Ohio State 45, Brady completed a screen pass to running back Anthony Thomas (Winnfield, La./Winnfield HS) for a 32-yard gain and a Michigan first down at the Buckeyes' 13. Four plays later, Thomas took a handoff and rumbled up the middle for a one-yard touchdown run with 7:45 remaining in the quarter.
Ohio State used a 12-play, 80-yard drive on its next possession to take back the lead. The possession lasted 4:01 and saw two key plays to sustain the drive. Bellisari's 19-yard completion to wide receiver Vanness Provitt on third-and-13 set up a first down at the Michigan 25-yard line. And on third-and-goal from the nine, a pass interference penalty called against Michigan set up first-and-goal at the two-yard line. Two plays later, Bellisari found fullback Jamar Martin in the right flat for a one-yard touchdown reception and a 14-7 halftime lead.
The Buckeyes controlled the ball at their own 24-yard line at the start of the third. But on third-and-19 from the 31, Michigan safety DeWayne Patmon (San Diego, Calif./Patrick Henry HS) picked off a pass by Bellisari and returned the ball 32 yards to the Buckeye 23. After U-M lost two yards in three plays, placekicker Hayden Epstein (Cardiff, Calif./Torrey Pines HS) kicked a 42-yard field goal to narrow the gap to 14-10.
Ohio State increased its lead back to seven on its next possession. The drive was set up by a 53-yard kickoff return by wideout Ken-Yon Rambo, giving Ohio State the ball at the Michigan 43. The key play was a fourth-and-two halfback pass from Wiley to Rambo for a 21-yard gain. U-M's defense forced the Buckeyes to settle for a 27-yard field goal by placekicker Dan Stultz.
Michigan's defense set up a Wolverine possession that evened up the score. On second-and-11 from its own 11-yard line, Bellisari's pass attempt was picked off by senior linebacker Ian Gold (Belleville, Mich./Belleville HS) at the 25-yard line, and he then eluded tackles on way to a 17-yard return to give Michigan possession at the eight. On the next play, Brady found tight end Thompson in the end zone for an eight-yard scoring play and a 17-17 score.
On the Buckeyes' next possession, Michigan cornerback James Whitley (Norfolk, Va./Norview HS) forced a fumble on wide receiver Provitt's reception, and safety Cato June (Washington, D.C./Anacostia HS) recovered to give the Wolverines possession of the ball. Thomas ran for 13 yards on third-and-one to move the ball to the Ohio State 28 for a first down. Then on second-and-10, outstanding pass protection by the U-M offensive line assisted Brady in locating Walker for a 17-yard completion to the Ohio State 11. Two plays later, Brady found Walker again for a 10-yard touchdown completion to put the Wolverines on top for the first time, and U-M held on for a final score of 24-17.
Michigan was led by Thomas, who ran for a game-high 111 yards on 31 carries and one rushing touchdown while adding a game-high five receptions for 51 yards. Brady finished 17-of-27 passing for 150 yards and two touchdown passes.
A number of players on defense turned in great performances. Leading the way were June, Gold, senior safety Tommy Hendricks (Houston, Texas/Eisenhower HS) and senior linebacker Dhani Jones (Potomac, Md./Winston Churchill HS). June, along with his fumble recovery, tallied a game-high 10 tackles. Hendricks totaled nine tackles, forced a fumble and recorded a sack for an eight-yard loss. Gold also recorded nine tackles along with his interception, and Jones tallied eight tackles (two for losses) and a sack.
For Ohio State, Wiley carried the ball 22 times for 92 yards, and Bellisari threw for two touchdowns despite only 8-of-20 passing. Cornerback Nate Clemments led the team with nine tackles.
The Wolverines will now wait until Dec. 5, when bowl selections will be announced.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423