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November 18, 2013 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2013-11-18

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

November 18, 2013 - 3B

KICKING
From Page 1B_
wins. So what?
This was a battle between
the Legends Division's bottom
dwellers, and it showed. Now, the
game hung in the balance on this
final drive of regulation. To start
it off, Gardner looked to Dileo.
His first reception went for six
yards.
He hurried back to the line as
the clock ticked away. The race
was on.
Only on big plays would Gib-
bons stop and watch. Back, back,
back, back. Right, right. Pause.
Now it was 4th and four, so
Gibbons looked up.
Gardner found Devin Funch-
ess. Michigan stayed alive. Gib-
bons resumed, striding over that

awkward divot.
Thump.
Dileo's struggles continued.
On the next play, Gardner threw
another pass Dileo's way, but it
was incomplete again. Two more
plays, and Michigan faced anoth-
er 4th and four.
Again, Funchess made the
reception. But now time had
become an issue.
Gardner was sacked for a loss
of 13 yards. The field goal would
be 60 yards from there, out of
range. Less than 30 seconds
remained. Another pass went
incomplete. Michigan needed
yards, but it also needed to stop
the clock, and it was third down
and no timeouts remained.
At some point, Matt Wile,

Michigan's long-distance kicker,
grabbed Gibbons and took him
near the line of scrimmage and
close to Michigan coach Brady
Hoke. Gardner flung a pass to
Jeremy Gallon. He caught it 16
yards down the field, inbounds.
Twelve seconds remained, and
counting.
Half the team was running off
the field and the field goal unit
was running on.
"Hurry, hurry up!" Gibbons
heard Hoke yell, as the coach
waved his hands. "Hurry up!"
And so he ran onto the field.
Dileo had run a route on the
opposite sideline, so he was the
farthest player from the line of
scrimmage. The line was just
about set, but Dileo, the holder,
was still on the wrong side of the
ball. Six seconds remained, then
five.

Michigan practices these hur-
ried field goals often. The team
runs them four or fives times
a week during fall camp, Hoke
said. Each Friday during the
season, it practices more. Hoke
counts down, and he counts fast.
Still, Hoke said he's never been
in a game situation this tight.
Now, the crowd counted down
for him
"Four!"
Rain had fallen steadily
throughout the second quarter,
and the field was muddy.
"Three!"
Dileo sprinted, and he needed
to stop, quick.
As Dileo ran, Gibbons started
his routine. Back, back...
"Two!"
There wasn't enough time.
Gibbons shuffled to a spot that
looked right. The field was slick
and divoted, and now, one more
obstacle: time.
For 59:48 this was a miserable,

meaningless game. But now the
win was achievable, and the side-
line buzzed. Michigan was play-
ing for their teammates and for
themselves and it didn't matter
what it was playing for because
it was playing to win. Still, the
Wolverines only had aprayer.
Dileo slid like a baseball player
does into second base. Gibbons
is a lefty, so Dileo was already on
the correct side. Now, kicker and
holder were together.
"One!"
Gibbons didn't even havea
chance to pause. Jareth Glanda
threw back the snap.
Soon, the rain picked up,
and the wind whipped up loose
objects and made it so loud that
you had to yell to the person next
to you. Michigan would dogpile
after three overtimes, victorious
27-19. Fans would crowd over the

stands lining the walkway next
to Michigan's locker room likea
canyon. Gallon and Gardner and
Taylor Lewan lingered there in
the driving rain, basking in the
feeling. Lewan disappeared into
the locker room, then reemerged
to give a sweatband toa young
child.
Hoke would say, "It might
be the best single play I've ever
seen. 'Cause it was a team play."
Michigan didn't need any--
thing extra to play for. There was
a game to be won. But Gibbons
still had to make the kick. The
routine had gone to hell. There
was another obstacle to dodge.
Dileo's slide stopped him at,
the right place.
Thump.
Gibbons knew it was good the
moment it left his foot.
Helfand can be reached
atzhelfand@umich.edu and
on Twitter @zhelfand.

ESCAPE
From Page 1B
been holding onto the ball for
too long while working with a
helpless offensive line, one of
the best athletes in the Big Ten
rendered ineffective by way of
brutality.
Northwestern dropped four
woald-be interceptions against
Gardner. Two of those likely
would have been returned for
touchdowns. Gardner ran for
jest 19 yards and completed 56
Tercent of his passes. He was by
no means perfect.
But at the end of the game, a
Northwestern player crouched
in the end zone, head down and
eyes closed before flinging his
helmet away. That was because
of Gardner.
On the last drive of overtime,
on 3rd and 23 with 16 seconds
left and no timeouts, he com-
pleted a sixteen-yard pass to
set up the game-tying field goal
from fifth-year senior kicker
Brendan Gibbons.
He threw the go-ahead
touchdown pass in the first
overtime, and then in triple
overtime, he faked an option
pitch and barreled through two
Wildcats for what would wind
up being the game-winning
touchdown. The two-point
conversion was finished by a
Gardner run, too, even though
it was a designed quarterback
run and Northwestern knew it
was coming.
"At that moment, you aren't
worn out," Gardner said. "If
you're worn out, you're not a
competitor. I gotta give it all I
got, and that's what I did."
Gardner looked like a com-
pletely different player once
the regulation clock turned off
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and overtime rules were on the
table. With his back to the wall
and a fire of disappointment
licking at his heels, Gardner
made Michigan's season into
something salvageable.
"I don't know if there's any
one thing," Michigan coach
Brady Hoke said. "I wouldn't
think he was any more focused
or anything else, maybe he just
got into more of a rhythm."
Of course, none of this hap-
pens without a miracle field
goal at the end of regulation
that required a slide from hold-
er Drew Dileo and a conversion
from Gibbons on a wet, windy
field.
Without that, there are no
smiles or two-point conver-
sions. If Gardner leads Michi-
gan down the field but Gibbons
misses, it's a completely differ-
ent story.
But the hypothetical game
doesn't exist in college foot-
ball, so Gardner ran off the field
with his arms outstretched and
a grin on his face, ready to slap
hands with the fans who booed
this team a week ago. He took
their praise, took their congrat-
ulations, and ducked into the
locker room to sing The Victors.
Before heading to the media
room and after hugging his
family, he stopped for the group
of children. In unison, they
raised their hands. Some held
up one, some held up two. Gard-
ner slapped them all.
Walking into the media
room, where he would smile in
a press conference for the first
time in a while, Gardner heard
one of the children say, "That
was awesome! I got a high five
from.Devin Gardner!"
He turned around and
grinned. Being Devin Gardner
was fun again.

FIVE
From Page 1B
over once.
But that was largely because
Northwestern dropped four
would-be interceptions.And when
it counted, Michigan often came
up short. There was the failure to
capitalize on the short punt. And
then on the next drive, Michigan
went for it on a fourth-and-two
instead of kicking the game-tying
field goal. Gardner ran the ball on
a keeper. He lost ayard.
"Well we wanna score more,"
said Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
"But I think everyone in the coun-
try wants to score more. But I like
how we ran the ball. That's the
first time I guess we were in posi-
tive yardage. That's the first time
in three weeks, so we'll take that."
2. The kids are alright.
Fitzgerald Toussaint stood on
the sideline Saturday, his helmet
in hand. For about two and a half
seasons now, Toussaint has been
the Michigan football team's pre-
ferred choice at running back.
But now the fifth-year senior
watched as two true freshmen
took the snaps that usually go to
him. Hobbled with an unspeci-
fied injury, Toussaint was unable
to practice for much of the week,
according to Hoke. He didn't play
a single snap. Hoke said he held
him out of the game because he
didn't get enough work in practice.
Instead, Green and De'Veon
Smith shared every carry from the
tailback position. Together, they
totaled 120 yards on 27 carries. It
was Michigan's first game in posi-
tive rushing yardage in the last
three weeks.
Green got the start and the bulk
of the carries, but Smith rushed

just as well. He averaged 5.1 yards
per carry on eight rushes - the
highest average from a Michigan
running back except for Green's
5.3 yards per carry in the season
opener. Toussaint's highest aver-
age was 5.0 against Connecticut.
Hoke said Toussaint will still
the be the starter moving forward,
but the Wolverines finally saw
some life from its young rushers.
3. Found: Pass rush.
Michigan has been searching
for a pass rush all year, and it may
have finally found the right combi-
nation. Senior Jibreel Black,junior
Frank Clark and freshman Taco
Charlton pressured each of North-
western's quarterbacks for much
of the game.
The Wolverines finished with
two sacks, but the pass rush
showed life and collapsed the
pocket often. On one play, Clark
beat his lineman with a spin move,
but he was unable to get the sack.
Still, the pressure forced a quick
throw and an incompletion.
"We're trying out new stuff,"
said Black, the only defensive line-
man with a sack Saturday. "We're
not going to get it right away. And I
feel like we're really starting to jell
together."
4. Dileo is a good base runner.
Gardner ran off the field so
quickly on the final play of regu-
lation that he missed the last-
second, 44-yard field goal from
fifth-year senior Brendan Gib-
bons. That meantS he also missed
fifth-year senior Drew Dileo's
rather unusual hold.
After the game, Gardner said,
"A lot of guys were in the locker
room talking about, 'Did you see
Dileo?'
"I was like, 'He's the holder,

TERESA MATHEW/Daily
Redshirtjunior Devin Gardner led Michigan to an overtime win on Saturday.

what do you mean did I see Dileo?'
What he missed was a play
more often seen in baseball. Dileo
was the furthest player from the
line ofscrimmage, so he had to run
to get back for the snap. With awet
field, Dileo slid like a base runner
to stop himself at the right spot.
In fact, Dileo was a talented
baseball player in high school,
winning three varsity letters and
two Louisiana state champion-
ships. For Michigan, that paid off.

5. Bold Prediction: Derrick Green
will get more carries than Fitzger-
ald Toussaint for the rest of the
season.
Toussaint is still the presumed
starter, but Green showed promise
on Saturday. At this point, is he a
better option that Toussaint? It's
close.
But Green is the running back
of the future. My guess is Michi-
gan will work on his development.

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