PISCATAWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- No, deciding the winner of a game never comes down to just one play. It’s a series of plays throughout a contest that dictate what scenarios will pop up in the final minutes.
On third and eight at the Rutgers 38-yard line, and following multiple completions out of Gardner on the drive including a 12-yarder to Khalid Hill and 17-yarder to Devin Funchess, Gardner again came through.
Moving to his right, Gardner hit Amara Darboh on the right sideline, Darboh extending and diving over the first down markers out of bounds.
Appearing to have the first down, the referee even initially signaling a catch and first down, the ball came loose at the end of the play and was ultimately ruled an incompletion on the field.
“Very strongly (disagree),” Hoke said in his post game press conference immediately following the loss. “And I probably still do.”
After sending the team onto the field to go for it on fourth and eight, Hoke actually took a timeout to challenge the play.
Upon further review the ruling on the field was confirmed and the reception, which would have given Michigan a first down at the Rutgers 29-yard line with 3:07 to go, was no more.
Based on what Hoke saw from the opposite sideline, he believes Darboh made a catch.
“He possessed the ball, was trying to get the line of scrimmage, kind of put it out there,” Hoke said. “And then the ball was gone.”
Asked about the play afterward, Gardner agreed with his coach, describing what he saw.
“He caught the ball, he took a few steps, he reached out to get the first down to make sure he had it and the ball came out like it might,” Gardner said. “And they called it an incomplete pass.
“You guys can watch the film. It looked like a complete pass to me.”
Following the review, Hoke elected to send the field goal unit onto the field to attempt a 56-yarder for Matt Wile.
Rutgers came up with a block on the kick but Hoke believes it was the right call to put Wile on the field from that distance.
“We looked at it and talked about it and I was out earlier with Matt and he was kicking 57, 59, all over,” Hoke said. “So, (we) felt good with the wind he had that he could make a field goal.”
Status of Morris, Peppers
After suffering a concussion a week ago in his second career start, Michigan quarterback Shane Morris made the trip to Rutgers.
Without detailing Morris’ participation in practice throughout the week other than to say, “He was with us,” Hoke addressed bringing Morris as well as freshman cornerback Jabrill Peppers who still appears to be fighting through injury.
“They’re both integral parts of our football team,” Hoke said. “They’re guys that we count on. Shane was a guy who helped signal various plays.
“Jabrill is from New Jersey so I think he spent a little time with his mother. We brought Juwann (Bushell-Beatty) also.”
To watch video of Hoke’s post game press conference, press play below.
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