U-M Stages Record Comeback, 38-35

The greatest comeback in Wolverine history overcame the most rushing yards ever given up by a Michigan defense as Michigan outlasted Minnesota.

Gopher running back Marion Barber and quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq led a Minnesota offense that ran wild over the Michigan rushing defense for 425 yards, breaking the record of 421 rushing yards gained by Ohio State against the Wolverines back in 1968.

And at the end of the third quarter things looked hopeless for Michigan, with the Gophers dominating the lethargic Wolverines on the ground to lead 28-7. A 21 point deficit, larger than Michigan had ever come back from in 124 years of Wolverine football. To make matters worse, Marlin Jackson went out with an injury at the start of the fourth quarter.

And then ... the Michigan offense went to the shotgun, and John Navarre got hot. And the comeback began.

Michigan took the ball to start the fourth quarter at the 45 yards line -- and five plays and five completions later Chris Perry took a screen pass ten yards for a touchdown to make it 28-14.

Four plays later Minnesota's quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq made his first mistake of the game, throwing an interception to U-M safety Jacob Stewart who returned it 35 yards for another Michigan score -- and at with 13:50 left it was 28-21. Michigan was alive and suddenly had the momentum as well.

But Minnesota was not done yet. On their next possession they had a third and one at their own 48 yard line -- and Abdul-Khaliq burst through on a quarterback sneak and took it all the way to the end zone. At 11:11 Michigan was back on its heals again, 35-21.

But Navarre stayed in the shot gun and stayed hot. Michigan took the ball at its 21 yard line, and four plays later, at the 10:18 mark, Navarre hit Braylon Edwards in stride with a 52 yard touchdown bomb to close the gap to 35-28.

And it seemed like the Stewart interception suddenly jump-started the Michigan defense as well. They finally shut down the Gopher running game with a three-and-out series, and at 8:15 got the ball back again at the Michigan 40. Once again Navarre had the hot hand, going four for five in a drive capped off my a Chris Perry ten yard touchdown run. Finally, with 5:48 left, it was all even again, 35-35.

Finally the fight seemed to go out of Minnesota. The Wolverine defense stopped the Gophers once again, and with 4:15 left Michigan had the ball back again at their own 42 yard line.

This time the Wolverine's goal was to run down the clock and get into field goal position. Navarre got out of the shot gun formation, and Michigan mixed the pass and the run to get to the Minnesota 16 yard line with 47 seconds left. Out on the field came freshman place kicker Garrett Rivas -- who continued his fine freshman season by drilling a 33 yarder dead-center for the winning score.

Michigan wins, 38-35, with the biggest comeback in Wolverine history -- breaking the record set in 1995 with the Scott Driesbach-led 18-17 comeback over Virginia after trailing 17-0 in the fourth quarter.

After the game Coach Carr was asked how it felt to win the biggest comeback in Michigan history. With a big smile he said to the press, "It was fun." He added, "After the tough loss last week, the way these kids came back ... they showed a lot of heart and deserve all the credit."

Other notes:

The 31 points scored by Michigan in the fourth quarter was the most fourth-quarter-points ever scored by a Michigan team .

Cornerback Jeremy LeSueur was dressed for the game and in pads, etc., but did not play. And Marlin Jackson went out at the end of the third quarter although it didn't seem overly serious.

The 425 rushing yards gained by Minnesota surpassed the 421 rushing yards gained by Ohio State in the infamous 1968 game, when Woody Hayes went for a two point conversion at the end of the game to beat Michigan 50-14, on his way to his only undefeated season and National Championship (when asked why he'd go for two at the end of the game just to get to 50 points, he answered, "Because that was the highest I could get ... I couldn't get to 51.") This game was the last of the Bump Elliot era, and ushered in the very next year the beginning of the Bo Schembechler era.

Freshman place kicker Garrett Rivas is now 6 for 7 for the season in field goals (although admittedly his two longest, of 44 and 47 yards, have barely made it over -- with the 47 yarder hitting the crossbar and falling over).

Some other game stats.
John Navarre was 33 for 47 for 353 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Chris Perry had 20 carries for 85 yards.
For Minnesota, Marion Barber rushed for 197 yards, Abdul-Khaliq for 106, and Laurence Maroney for 81.

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