Nov. 10, 2012
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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan Stadium
Score: Michigan 38, RV/21/24 Northwestern 31 (OT),
Records: NU (7-3, 3-3 Big Ten), Michigan (7-3, 5-1 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Saturday, Nov. 17 at Michigan State 11 a.m. CT East Lansing, Mich.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Northwestern took the lead midway through the fourth quarter and made a late interception, but a Michigan Hail Mary and game-tying field goal sent the game to overtime, where the Wolverines came out on top, 38-31.
The game marked the first overtime contest for the Wildcats since the 2010 Outback Bowl and was the first overtime loss in program history for NU in Big Ten play (Northwestern previously was 7-0 in such games).
Northwestern was led on offense by running back Venric Mark's seventh 100-yard rushing game of the season and a combined 14-of-21 passing effort with three touchdowns by quarterbacks Kain Colter and Trevor Siemian. Mark racked up 260 all-purpose yards -- the third-best total of his career -- to raise his Big Ten-best per-game average to 191.2 yards.
NU compiled 248 rushing yards and 431 total yards on a Michigan defense that came into the game ranked No. 7 nationally in total defense.
Northwestern began the game on defense and forced a quick punt after defensive end Quentin Williams notched a pass breakup and tackle for no gain before corner Quinn Evans batted away a third-down pass attempt by the Wolverines.
NU took over for its first series at its 22 yard line and promptly marched 78 yards for the first points of the game, scoring the first touchdown allowed by Michigan on an opening drive this year. The drive was aided by a brilliant third-down catch by Christian Jones and long runs by Colter and Mike Trumpy before Mark capped off the drive with his 10th rushing score of the season.
Michigan assembled a lengthy 15-play drive in response to the NU touchdown, getting on the board when QB Devin Gardner dashed eight yards and dove for the pylon for the score.
On the second play of the second quarter, Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint broke off a 50-yard run and seemed poised to find the end zone before being stripped of the ball inside the NU 5-yard line. Linebacker Chi Chi Ariguzo both caused and recovered the fumble, keeping the game knotted at seven apiece.
Northwestern returned the favor on the ensuing possession, however, when Colter was hit in the backfield and lost the ball to the Wolverines. Michigan took over and covered the 40 yards to the end zone, with Thomas Rawls sneaking in from 1-yard out to put the hosts in front, 14-7.
In the late stages of the second quarter, a Brandon Williams punt pinned Michigan at its own 6-yard line, and the Wildcats defense quickly forced the Wolverines to return the kick to NU.
Northwestern sent on Siemian to operate the two-minute offense with 1:53 remaining, and Siemian quickly scrambled to pick up a first down. After a 21-yard completion over the middle to Christian Jones, Siemian then fired a perfect back-shoulder delivery at the pylon to redshirt freshman Cameron Dickerson. Dickerson turned on the ball and made the catch falling out of bounds, tying the score at 14.
The Wildcats then took the opening kickoff of the second half and moved the chains thanks to the arm and elusiveness of Colter, who converted a big third-down pass play to Mike Trumpy. After an option play to Mark put NU on the 23-yard line, Colter dropped back and found a wide-open Dan Vitale heading toward the end zone. Vitale made the grab for his second career touchdown and a 21-14 Northwestern advantage.
Northwestern added to its lead with a 34-yard Jeff Budzien field goal later in the quarter after an impressive 13-play drive. But the Wolverines countered on the next series with back-to-back big plays, the second of which was a 28-yard touchdown catch-and-run by Toussaint.
Michigan then seized the lead on an 8-yard scoring pass from Gardner to Drew Dileo on a third-down play, setting the score at 28-24 in favor of the hosts.
Mark appeared to steal the lead right back for Northwestern when he returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, but a holding call against the Wildcats brought the ball back to the NU 34-yard line. Colter used his legs to pick up back-to-back first downs for Northwestern but was forced out of the game after being shaken up on a hit.
Siemian re-entered the game and efficiently finished the drive, eventually finding Tony Jones for a 15-yard touchdown to put the Wildcats back on top, 31-28, with 3:59 left in the game. On Michigan's next drive, Demetrius Dugar stepped in front of a Gardner pass for a huge interception.
On the ensuing drive, Colter re-entered the game and converted a fourth-and-short run despite taking a hellacious hit on the play. NU ended up punting with 18 seconds left, then Michigan hit a miraculous Hail Mary tipped-completion down to the 7-yard line before kicking a game-tying field goal to send the game to overtime.
Michigan took the opening possession of overtime in for a touchdown, then stopped NU on a fourth-and-one play to end the game.
Next week, Northwestern heads out on the road one final time in the 2012 season when it returns to Michigan to battle the Spartans of Michigan State at 11 a.m. CT Saturday. Television coverage will be announced Monday with either ESPN or ESPN2 carrying the game to a national audience.
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