Oct. 8, 2011
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Site: Evanston, Ill. (Ryan Field)
Score: #12/11 Michigan 42, Northwestern 24
Records: NU (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten), Michigan (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Saturday, Oct. 15 -- at Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa), 6 p.m.
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern recorded three first-half interceptions and led 24-14 at the break, but couldn't hold off No. 12/11 Michigan in front of a sold-out crowd at Ryan Field Saturday evening, falling 42-24.
NU quarterback Dan Persa completed 32 of 44 passes for 331 yards in the contest. Jeremy Ebert had a team-high 11 receptions for 86 yards while Drake Dunsmore added seven receptions for 73 yards.
After Northwestern was forced to punt following the opening possession of the game, Michigan struck first on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Denard Robinson to Steve Watson. The play was set up by a 48-yard completion from Robinson to Junior Hemingway on 3rd and 7 that took the ball from the Michigan 42-yard line to the NU 10.
The Wildcats answered right back, though, going 80 yards in just six plays as Kain Colter completed the drive with a 15-yard keeper to tie the game, 7-7. Dan Persa completed three passes on the drive, including a 26-yard hookup with Drake Dunsmore.
Robinson was picked off by redshirt freshman Ibraheim Campbell on the Wolverines' ensuing possession and Northwestern took over on its own 37. A 23-yard rush by Adonis Smith got the ball to the Michigan 11 before true freshman Treyvon Green completed the drive two plays later by taking an option pitch from Persa, scampering seven yards into the end zone to help give NU a 14-7 lead.
The Wolverines reached the red zone on their next drive, but on the first play of the second quarter, Campbell picked off Robinson deep in Northwestern territory for the second time in the game.
Michigan tied the game with 4:13 remaining in the opening half. The Wolverines took over possession after the Wildcats were stopped on 4th and 1 on the Michigan 32. The drive culminated in a 25-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Jeremy Gallon.
But it took Northwestern just under two minutes to answer back as the hosts drove 82 yards to regain the lead. The touchdown drive was set up by a 39-yard catch from Persa to true freshman Christian Jones that got the ball to the Michigan 2. Smith did the rest, scoring on a rush on the next play to make it 21-14.
The visitors attempted to get on the board before the half, but Robinson was picked off for the third time in the half, this time by Brian Peters, giving NU the ball at its own 48 with 1:05 left before the intermission. Three straight completions from Persa, including two of 16 yards apiece to Colter, got the Wildcats inside the Michigan 10, but Northwestern was forced to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Jeff Budzien on the final play of the stanza to give the hosts a 24-14 lead at the break.
Michigan crept back within three following the opening drive of the second half as Robinson ran in a score from two yards out. After Northwestern was forced to punt, the Wolverines reclaimed the lead with 2:58 remaining in the third quarter as Devin Gardner scored on a one-yard run to put the guests in front 28-24.
Following a Northwestern interception, Michigan drove 47 yards as it extended its lead to 11 on the first play of the fourth quarter as Michael Shaw found the end zone from two yards out.
The Wildcats reached Michigan territory its next two drives, but NU was unable to come away with points on either. Michigan added to its lead as Robinson rushed five yards into the end zone to cap off a 9-play 53-yard drive to put the final score at 42-24. Northwestern entered Michigan territory on its final drive after Robinson's touchdown but was unable to score as time expired.
Northwestern returns to action next Saturday as it plays its second of three straight night games when it travels to Iowa. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
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