ANN ARBOR – Illinois part two?
Once again the Wolverines (5-5, 1-5) surged to a halftime lead. Once again U-M got dominated over the final 30 minutes. This time the visiting Purdue Boilermakers (4-6, 3-3) sent the Wolverines packing (4-6, 3-3), racking up 494 yards of offense, 167 of which came in the decisive third quarter, as the Maize and Blue squandered a 24-10 halftime lead and dropped a 38-36 decision Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
"It's disappointing. We play well in phases, but you got to play a little better than that if you want to win games," said Rich Rodriguez. "It's frustrating for everybody involved I'm sure, but you just have to go back to work."
Roy Roundtree and Brandon Minor, bright spots for the Wolverine team still one win away from bowl eligibility, combined to score all four Michigan touchdowns. Minor scored on runs of 29, 55 and 1 while Roundtree found the end zone from 43-yards out in a half that saw the former Purdue commit haul in seven balls for 103 yards.
"You score 36 points you ought to be able to win it," Rodriguez said.
But, despite the Wolverines offensive outburst over the first 30 minutes, it was once again the third quarter that doomed Michigan. After the teams exchanged scores to open the quarter, minus a Michigan extra point that would prove pivotal, Purdue surged ahead with three straight scores.
Ralph Bolden scored for the second time of the game, again a run over right tackle, to cap a 91-yard scoring drive to bring Purdue within six points just past the halfway mark of the quarter. Just 9-seconds later the Boilermakers went up 31-30 following a successful onside kick and a 54-yard touchdown bomb to Cortez Smith.
"What hurts you is the cheap (touchdowns). They're uncontested. If (Purdue) makes great plays, that's one thing, but to just let guys get behind you or let guys get wide open or a couple times we blew coverage. We had a guy man-to-man and eyes were somewhere else other than our man and that's just frustrating."
On Michigan's first drive of the fourth quarter the Wolverines looked poised to retake the lead when a Jason Olesnavage field goal sailed wide from 48-yards out. Just four plays later Purdue scored its final touchdown, an eight-yard scramble by quarterback Joey Elliott, to put up all the points Purdue would need.
Michigan cut the lead to just a pair of points when Brandon Minor scored from a yard out, but
Tate Forcier was sacked on the Wolverines two point conversion attempt. The Wolverines got the ball back down two with just 30 seconds left, but Michigan was unable to get into field goal range as the clock expired on the Michigan drive.
In the first half the Wolverines built a 24-10 lead behind the first forced defensive turnovers since the Wolverines loss to Iowa. Kevin Leach hauled in the interception that led to a 55-yard Brandon Minor touchdown run, and Donovan Warren picked off the Purdue quarterback in the quarter as well.
With the loss the Wolverines remain one win shy of claiming bowl elibility with just two games to play. The Wolverines travel to Madison, Wis., to meet the Wisconsin Badgers next Saturday. Then the Wolverines host the rival Ohio State Buckeyes in the regular season finale.
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