Triple-OT Thriller: Michigan Comes from Behind to Stun Wildcats
The University of Michigan football team kicked a tying field goal as time expired in regulation before prevailing in three overtimes at Northwestern, 27-19, on Saturday (Nov. 16) at Ryan Field.
With Michigan down 9-6 with less than a minute to play, senior/junior quarterback Devin Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Inkster) found fifth-year senior wideout Jeremy Gallon (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) at the Northwestern 27 with 12 seconds left. Michigan hustled on its kicking unit and got the snap off with a tick left. Fifth-year senior kicker Brendan Gibbons (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) split the uprights from 44 yards out to send the game into overtime.
The teams traded touchdowns in the first OT, and each kicked field goals in OT2, before Gardner scored on a third-down option and ran it in for two to set up a chance for a Wolverine win. The Michigan defense used a second-down sack and two consecutive pass defenses to preserve U-M's seventh win of the season.
In addition to his game-winning scamper, Gardner completed 24 of a career-high 43 throws for 226 yards and a score. On the defensive side, sophomore linebacker James Ross III (Orchard Lake, Mich./Saint Mary's Prep) registered a career-best 11 tackles and a sack.
On their first drive, the Wolverines marched down the field mainly via freshman tailbacks Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) and De'Veon Smith (Warren, Ohio/Howland) before stalling at the eight and settling for a 25-yard Gibbons field goal, despite the 20-plus mile-per-hour winds blowing in his face.
The Wildcats offense responded with a 40-yard field goal of their own.
Four consecutive punts and a missed 51-yard field goal attempt by Matt Wile (San Diego, Calif./Francis Parker) followed. Northwestern then reached the Michigan five, but the U-M defense stood tall and forced a 22-yard field goal for a 6-3 halftime score.
As the rain continued to fall, the first four drives of the second half ended in punts. On the fifth possession, Michigan once again held in the red zone, resulting in Northwestern padding its lead to 9-3 thanks to Jeff Budzien's third field goal of the contest, this time from 29 out.
Michigan's next drive reached just past midfield, before a Wile punt that was downed on the Northwestern 1. After a short two-yard drive, the Wildcats Brandon Williams' shank gave Michigan the ball just 10 yards away from the end zone.
Despite the great field position, Gardner and the offense were once again unable to convert on third down, marking the ninth consecutive failed attempt. Gibbons' 43rd career field goal brought U-M back within three, 9-6, with 11:45 remaining.
After Northwestern was stopped inches short of a first down, U-M reached the Northwestern five-yard line and elected to go for it on fourth-and-two with four minutes to go; but a Gardner bootleg was stopped, and the ball went back to Northwestern.
Following a punt, U-M had the ball on its own 22 with less than two-and-a-half minutes on the clock. Michigan converted on two fourth downs -- a Gardner six-yard scramble and nine-yard catch from sophomore tight end Devin Funchess (Farmington Hills, Mich./Harrison HS) -- and moved to the NU 30 following a pass interference call. A sack then pushed Michigan back to the 43, but Gardner found Gallon for the 10th time in the game to set up the tying kick.
Michigan got the ball first in the first overtime and converted when, from 11 yards out, Gardner found freshman tight end Jake Butt (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington North), who reeled in a one-handed catch for his first career touchdown.
The Wildcats' offense responded with a touchdown of their own, as quarterback Kain Colter punched it in from one yard out after just six plays.
In the second overtime, Michigan forced Northwestern to kick another field goal, but after a ball bounced off the fingertips of Gallon in the end zone on third down, Gibbons was true from 29 yards to enter OT3.
U-M started with the ball and an incomplete pass, before four Gardner rushes ended in a touchdown. Gardner got the call on the two-point attempt and converted.
With another chance to end the game, senior defensive tackle Jibreel Black (Cincinnati, Ohio/Wyoming) sacked QB Trevor Sieman for a 14-yard loss on second down. Senior safety Thomas Gordon (Detroit, Mich./Cass Technical) nearly intercepted a long pass on the Wildcats' third-and-23 attempt and picked off NU's last heave to the end zone on fourth down to end the game.