Michigan leaves Seattle feeling Lowe

Washington took advantage of two huge turnovers and scored 14 points in the span of 49 seconds to defeat Michigan 23-18 in front of 74,080 fans in Husky Stadium this afternoon. Michigan won every category possible but could not overcome three turnovers, two of them caused by Omare Lowe.

With Michigan leading 12-6 and grinding the Huskies down with a two tight end alignment power running game, the Wolverines faced a third and two on the Washington 16-yard line. Tailback Chris Perry tried the middle but was met by linebacker Marquis Cooper for no gain.

It didn't seem like a big play at the time, only that it would force Michigan to go for three instead of the end zone. With Washington's offense struggling to get anything going, a 15-6 lead with just over 9 minutes left in the game may have stood up.

We'll never know now.

"As they were lining up for the field goal I told (offensive coordinator) Keith Gilbertson on the phones that we were probably looking at a two-score deal and that we would need to loosen it up a bit," said Coach Rick Neuheisel.

Washington had a ‘block right' called and Lowe came through the Michigan line untouched and laid out his body. Wolverine place kicker Hayden Epstein came forward and booted what was supposed to be a 33-yard field goal but Lowe snuffed it and sent the ball skidding toward the Husky sideline. Fortuitously enough, the ball happened to roll right to the fastest player on the Husky team, Roc Alexander.

"Once I saw who had the ball, I knew it was over," said Neuheisel. "It was a done deal once Roc scooped it up."

The result was a 77-yard touchdown and a Husky lead.

"I got back on the phones with Gilbs and told him, "That was one Hell of a drive," said Neuheisel. "We found a little lightning in the bottle."

That was just the beginning of Lowe's dramatics. Michigan faced 2nd and 8 on the ensuing drive and Quarterback John Navarre threw a flare to Perry. He looked up before the ball was in his hands because he saw Husky linebacker Anthony Kelly coming at him. The ball went through Perry's mitts and deflected perfectly to Lowe, who made the pick and pranced untouched into the East end zone to send the Husky faithful into hysterics.

Zero offensive plays. 49 seconds elapsed. 14 unanswered points. Game over.

"Chills went through my body," said Lowe after the back to back scores he was involved in. "It reminded me of high school."

The Huskies came up with the first turnover of the game to avoid early trouble. Julius Curry had given the Wolverines excellent field position by returning a line drive Derek McLaughlin punt 32 yards, setting up the Michigan offense at the Husky 45-yard line. On second down Navarre was given time to throw and looked deep for receiver Ronald Bellamy. Sophomore cornerback Roc Alexander ran with him stride for stride and stepped in front of Bellamy for the interception at the Husky 10-yard line.

The Huskies were unable to move the ball, setting up the first points of the game. Michigan's Marquise Walker came crashing through the right side of the Husky line to block Derek McLaughlin's punt. McLaughlin stood on his own goal line when he took the snap, stepped forward and swung his leg to the ball when the Michigan wide receiver spiked it. The ball ricocheted through the endzone for a safety. Washington was fortunate the ball didn't stick around long enough to be recovered by the swarming Michigan players, and the visitors lead was 2-0.

Washington would take the lead on a 44-yard field goal by John Anderson at the 12:16 mark of the second quarter. The key play in the drive was an 18-yard draw play by Alexis. Michigan cornerback Todd Howard saved the touchdown by getting Alexis before he could get outside of him.

Reggie Williams turned in two huge plays on the next Husky drive. The first came on an 11-yard reception in front of Michigan defensive backs Jeremy LeSueur and Cato June. Two plays later Pickett scrambled outside the pocket to his left and fired a rocket to Williams despite tight coverage by Tad Van Pelt. Williams made the reception, got away from Van Pelt and was able to stop his momentum before going out of bounds. He turned upfield and raced down the sidelines before being chased down at the five.

A roughing the passer penalty that was tacked on put the Huskies inside the three yard-line with first and goal.
Michigan's defense stiffened and Washington's ground game was unable to muster anything. Hurst lost a yard on first down, Pickett gained it back on second down on a disorganized looking run. The Wolverine's linebacker Carl Diggs smelled option all the way on third down and stuffed Pickett for a yard loss. After a false start penalty, John Anderson capped the drive with another three-pointer from 27-yards out.

Washington's defense continued to keep Michigan at bay but a short McLaughlin punt from his own endzone provided the visitors with just 32 yards to travel and 1:52 left in the half.

Navarre went to work finding tight end Bennie Joppru for 15 in the left flat. He then fired twice to Marquise Walker to move the sticks again. Washington looked as if they had the drive stopped when crowd noise forced Michigan into a procedure penalty to create a third and five from the UW 12-yard line. Navarre again found Walker, this time for seven yards. On second down Lowe was able to knock down a fade pattern intended for Walker but on the very next play Walker and Lowe faced each other again in isolation. Walker faked a slant across the middle and broke back toward the sideline. Navarre hit him at the five and Walker beat Lowe to the endzone to push Michigan in front 9-6 at the half.

Michigan opened the scoring in the third quarter, converting three straight third downs and moving 46 yards in 13 plays. After tight coverage by the Husky secondary allowed Larry Tripplett to sack Navarre, Hayden Epstein kicked a 38-yard field goal to push the Wolverines out to a 12-6 lead.

Washington looked like it would come right back. On first down Pickett hit Williams on an alley oop fade in front of Howard. Williams made the catch at the 40 and broke free down the sideline. He was finally caught at the 7-yard line by cornerback Markus Curry. The gain was 74 yards and Washington once again was inside the 10-yard line.

Just as it did after Williams' previous long gainer, Washington's red zone offense went into sleep mode. Pickett kept for no gain on first down, Alexis dropped a flare pass on second down, and then on third down Michigan tackle Jake Frysinger spun through Todd Bachert and sacked Pickett for a loss. Anderson was summoned to close the gap but misfired to the left.

Michigan ground up the first six minutes of the fourth quarter by going on their first significant drive of the day against the Husky defense. Chris Perry and Marquise Walker did the damage. Walker caught a 9-yard slant to convert a third and six and one play later Perry broke free for the first time in the afternoon, running right past Kai Ellis and breaking Jimmy Newell's tackle to go for 30 yards. Walker caught a 10-yard buttonhook to convert the next third down opportunity. Washington finally stopped the Wolverines when Marquis Cooper and Larry Tripplett combined to stuff Perry short of the first down and set up Lowe's heroics.

A big miscue came when Michigan defensive back Cato June roughed Cody Pickett to give the Huskies a late first down in the fourth quarter. With Matthias Wilson eating up the clock with some tough yards inside as the fourth quarter waned, Michigan still made it interesting in the final two minutes. Navarre led them 95 yards in 10 plays, capped off by a 20-yard Navarre to Walker touchdown in the corner of the endzone with under a minute remaining, but the ensuing onside kick was recovered by Paul Arnold to salt the game away for the Huskies.

Cody Pickett went 13-22 for 199 yards in his debut as the Husky quarterback. Most importantly, he made few mistakes and didn't turn the ball over once.

"I thought Cody was outstanding," said Neuheisel. "He showed great touch and had that look in his eyes. When he took that first hit, right in the teeth from Larry Foote, he got right up like a good bull rider should. I was very impressed with him."

His biggest target of the day was freshman Reggie Williams, who had four receptions for 134 yards including a 74-yarder. Jerramy Stevens had two receptions for 24 yards in one half of action.

The Wolverines defense gave the young Husky offensive line fits, holding them to just 69 total rushing yards on 35 carries. Washington was only able to muster 13 first downs, five on the ground.

Wolverine quarterback John Navarre completed 26 of 44 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns, but had two interceptions. Perry finished the afternoon with 95 hard fought yards on 24 carries. Receiver Marquis Walker set a UW opponent's record by catching 15 passes. His receptions accounted for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
Husky Notebook:

Youth is served: When Reggie Williams was introduced as a starter, he became the first true freshman to ever do so for Washington. The first play of the game was a fade pattern intended for Williams, who dropped it. Williams more than made up for it by making two fantastic catches the next two times the ball came his way.

Helena Hitman: Greg Carothers lived up to his name in the first quarter when he came on a safety blitz and absolutely leveled quarterback John Navarre for a seven yard loss.

Stevens sits one half: The long awaited disciplinary action for Jerramy Stevens may have finally reached a closure. In addition to the 240 hours of community service that he performed, Stevens sat out the first half of the game today. On the first throw made to him in the third quarter, Stevens took it for a 20-yard gain.

C-Dub: Just before the Huskies came through the tunnel, a video tribute to Curtis Williams was displayed on the HuskyTron video screen. Five minutes of Curtis Williams highlights in action were shown, followed by a spoken message to the Husky fans. Williams' voice sounded wonderful.

Cisco in the house: OL Francisco Tipoti was at the game today. The CCSF offensive lineman was not able to make it into Washington in time for this season but is expected to make it in January. He was very happy after the game.

We are the champions: At the end of the third quarter, members of the 1991 national championship team came out into the east endzone and were introduced to a standing ovation from the Husky crowd. During the game we asked David Hoffman what he would give to get back out on the field for one series at linebacker. "I'd give ANYHING," was his one word, steely eyed response.

Notes and Quotes from the Husky locker room will follow later this evening.

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