Coach Carr: "It was Fun"

Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr responded when asked about Michigan's greatest comeback, a fourth quarter explosion that saw the Wolverines rally from a 28-7 deficit to win 38-35 in front of a 62,374 Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome crowd. A 33 yard field goal by Garret Rivas with 45 seconds left being the deciding points.

"That was a special one," Carr said. "They deserve all the credit. When you have a disappointment like we did last week and then come in and play very poorly in a very tough arena and fall behind, catch up, fall behind again, it just speaks to the human spirit and these kids have a tremendous spirit."

"We made up our minds we weren't going to be denied," Michigan quarterback John Navarre said after the game. "We started to do some good things and kept rolling."

Coming into the 100-year anniversary of the ‘Little Brown Jug', the Wolverines were looking for some redemption. After losing its last two road contests, this became a crucial game for the 2003 Michigan football team.

Michigan, which entered the season with strong expectations for a trip to the Sugar Bowl, site of the 2004 BCS Championship. Those hopes were dashed with losses to Oregon and Iowa.

A full house was expected and by kickoff the dome was near capacity. The excitement for this game is incredibly high, as local radio talk shows and newspapers have made this their main story leading up to the game.

In the pre-game warm-ups there was a distinct difference in the way each team carried itself on the field. Minnesota was crisp and hustled. They showed they were here and ready for the big game. Michigan, on the other hand, looked like it had just been awaken from a deep sleep and still didn't have its bearings. They were lackadaisical and showed hardly any emotion. Certainly not like a team that was expecting to be tested. Even when they came out for the start of the game there was no bounce. They huddled on the 30 yard line and casually strolled to the sidelines. There was no swagger.

Michigan did, in fact, come out flat. Minnesota took a 14-0 lead into halftime and it looked as though the Wolverines were headed to their third consecutive road loss. A possible shot at the Big Ten Championship hung in the balance.

Minnesota received the second half kickoff. The Michigan defense forced the Gophers to punt after a Abdul-Kaliq pass the Ben Utecht fell incomplete. Navarre brought the offense out on the field and drove them down to the Gopher 36. On the seventh play of the drive Navarre threw a lateral pass to WR Steve Beason, who promptly returned the favor and hit Navarre with a cross-field pass. With the entire Michigan line in front of him Navarre, after making an impressive juke on a Minnesota defender, scampered in for Michigan's first score of the game. Afterwards Breatson said this about the play, "We practice it every week, we just have to use it at the right time," he said. "I was excited. He broke a tackle."

Braylon Edwards was a little more skeptical whether or not his big QB would score, "I put a bet that he was going to get about 12 yards," he said. "That was a big play, I was impressed, and I may have to cut my hair."

Minnesota responded though, putting together a seven play drive, which culminated with a 38 yard touchdown run by Laurence Maroney. It appeared the Gophers weren't going to be denied their first win against Michigan since 1986.

After a Navarre interception put them on the Michigan 26, the Gophers scored again to pull ahead 28-7. This was the highest point total scored by Minnesota against Michigan since 1937, a span of 63 games. The Metrodome crowd was smelling blood.

Then the fourth quarter began.

"We had our backs against the wall, you can get knocked out or you can come out swinging," defensive lineman Larry Stevens said, "We knew what we had to do. We weren't playing well throughout the whole game. It was our season right here."

Michigan scored on a 10 yard pass play from Navarre to Chris Perry to bring the Wolverines to within 14. The Wolverines pulled it to 28-21 when Jacob Stewart stepped in front of a Asad Abdul-Kaliq pass and returned it 34 yards for the score. True freshman Leon Hall, playing for the injured Jeremy LeSueur, blitzed and almost had Abdul-Kaliq for a sack, before the Gopher QB lobbed the throw that Stewart picked off. "I came in the game kinda late," Stewart said. "I stepped in front of the ball and made the play, that was it. We never gave up."

On the following series the Gophers lined up for a third and half-yard on their own 48. Minnesota QB ran a sneak and broke free for a 52 yard TD. After the PAT the Gophers held a 35-14 lead with a little over 11 minutes left in the game.

Michigan then went to the shotgun formation and Navarre proceeded to hit streaking Braylon Edwards down the left sideline for a 52 yard touchdown strike. "We run a lot of post routes," Edwards said. "They were trying to stop the inside routes, so I gave him an inside move and he bit on it, then I went outside. That was one of the best throws I've ever seen, I never had to break stride."

Score: Minnesota 35, Michigan 28. Time remaining: 10:18.

Minnesota started their next series from the 20. After an initial run of11 yards the Michigan defense stiffened, forcing a punt. Michigan took over on their own 40 with 8:16 left in the game. Navarre and Co. marched down and scored on a 15 yard Perry run to bring the Wolverines to within one. The Rivas kick was good and it was all knotted up at 35 with 5:40 left. Plenty of time for the Gophers. They had been running wild over the Wolverines the entire game. The Michigan defense dug down deep and forced the Gophers into a three-and-out series, only their second of the game. Michigan began at their own 42. Michigan faced a fourth and inches on its first series. A Navarre sneak gave Michigan a first down with 3:25 left in the game. "We took a time out and I told our guys if we don't make this first down we can lose this game," Carr said about going for it on fourth down. "Every one of them wanted to go. I thought about punting at that time but I gave in to our coaches and our kids. Thank God I did. That was a call that tears your guts."

Eight plays later, with 47 seconds left, Rivas lined up for the go ahead field goal. As the ball went through the uprights the Gopher crowd, which had been loud all night, sat in stunned silence as their hopes for a win over Michigan the Mighty, were dashed.

Michigan 38, Minnesota 35 final.

"We weren't ourselves the first three quarters," Perry said. "That wasn't the Michigan team out there, they dominated somebody else. We kept on blowing opportunities. But we knew the goal and we came back. We got it back in the fourth quarter. We didn't quit."

Carr said this about Minnesota, "I felt coming in they had an outstanding offensive football team. But when we got on the field they were much better than I thought they were. Defensively they played extremely well for a long time. Both defenses got tired."

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