ANN ARBOR – Mike Hart ran for 188 yards and three touchdowns on just 23 carries, but Appalachian State, the two-time I-AA National Champions, had all the answers for the No. 5-ranked Wolverines in a 34-32 upset that ranks among the largest in college football history.
"Give Appalachian State credit. I thought they did a great job. I felt that we were not a well prepared football team. That is my job and I take full responsibility for that," said U-M coach Lloyd Carr after arguably the worst loss in Michigan football history. "We didn't execute. We simply made too many mistakes and had too many missed opportunities. Now we have to fight back and we have to deal with some adversity to find out what we're made of."
Trailing 31-26 entering the fourth quarter, Hart, who now sits at fourth place on the Wolverines career rushing list, put the Wolverines back on top with a 54-yard touchdown run with 4:36 left in regulation. Shortly after, Brandent Englemon, a second half substitution, intercepted an Armanti Edwards pass that appeared to put the game firmly in hand, but after connecting on his first two attempts of the contest, senior Jason Gingell's 43-yard field goal was tipped and fell short of the goal line.
On their ensuing possession, the two-time defending champion Mountaineers drove 69 yards and kicker Julian Rauch blasted the game-winner through the uprights from 24-yards.
"That may be one of the great victories in college football -- maybe the greatest. This victory today -- you've got to remember these kids have won two national championships -- and this is not bigger than those because the championships are in our league, our division. We're the best that year. But they will never ever forget today's experience as long as they live.," Appalachian State coach Jerry Moore said following one of the biggest wins in the history of his program.
Michigan got the ball back with 21 seconds left on the clock, but, after a 46-yard completion down the sideline to Mario Manningham, Gingell had another field goal blocked, this time from 20 yards out, as time expired on the Maize and Blue in their season opener.
"This is a great afternoon for our school -- to come up here and play like we did on the first game of the year and beat a team like Michigan. We tried not to make anything more out of it than it was. We tried to keep it in perspective. I thought we played well but you don't know if playing well is enough to win," Moore said.
After winning the first coin toss of the year, the Wolverines elected to take the ball right off the bat. Mike Hart found pay dirt immediately with a 4-yard touchdown run after galloping 33 yards to set up the score.
On their first possession, the Mountaineers answered with a 68-yard touchdown pass from Ashanti Edwards to Dexter Jackson on just their third play from scrimmage.
"I think they came out ready to play. I don't know if we weren't ready or what it was. I think that they had a good plan. They waited to see what we were in," said Michigan captain Shawn Crable.
Near the end of the first quarter, Michigan went back on top with a Chad Henne to Greg Mathews touchdown pass from 10 yards out.
Again, Appalachian State matched the Wolverines on their next drive, this time with Edwards second touchdown pass of the contest, this one from the nine.
After holding the Wolverines scoreless on their next possession, the Moutaineers went on top for the first time. Dexter Jackson recorded his second touchdown catch of the game, this one coming up the middle of the field from the 20.
"It feels great. Being in the Big House, it's an honor, but coming here and beating them feels great. They're a good team, but you gotta have heart. They're just like another team in our conference. They're human and we just played football," Jackson said.
Edwards then added to the lead with a touchdown run late in the half.
"We expected him to run. He did a lot of running. He kept the drives going, but for the most part we kept him contained. He did what he was supposed to do. I think the thing that hurt us the most running was the dive in the first half. I think in the first half we were a little surprised by what we were going to get and not really playing the way we were supposed to. I think we really dug ourselves a whole in the first half."
Michigan added the first of two field goals in the final seconds of the half.
Michigan opened the half with another field goal after a Morgan Trent interception, but it didn't take long for the Mountaineers to match the kick.
Michigan trimmed the lead to five points with Mike Hart's second touchdown run with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Wolverines return to action next Saturday by hosting the Oregon Ducks at 3:30 p.m.
Upset of the Century
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