SIe Ri TSganjadg
Saturday night thriller
M epic overtime
*-'By Gennaro Filice
November 1, 2004
With just under nine minutes left on Saturday, the Big House
was as quiet as it has been in years. DeAndra Cobb's 64-yard
touchdown run gave Michigan State a seemingly insurmount-
able 27-10 lead. But the Wolverines weren't quite ready to fold
in the 97th meeting with their in-state rival.
"One of the things that we always talk about around here (is)
the things that it takes to be a championship team," Michigan
coach Lloyd Carr said. "There's a lot of things you have to be
able to do: You have to continue to believe in yourself when
things look bleak."
True freshman quarterback Chad Henne, who finished 24-
of-35 for 273 yards and a career-high four touchdowns, adhered
to Carr's demands for optimism: "We were sitting on the side-
line and everybody was down, and I was thinking in my head,
-There's still a chance.' "
And following an unbelievable finish to regulation, three
Braylon Edwards touchdowns and three overtime periods, the
Wolverines had completed one of the most improbable wins in
school history, prevailing 45-37.
"This is the greatest game I've ever played in," senior cor-
nerback Marlin Jackson said. "The feeling is unexplainable. It's
one of the greatest victories I've ever been a part of, and maybe
one of the greatest ever at the University of Michigan."
Michigan moved from 12th to 10th in the Associated Press
rankings and remained unbeaten in the Big Ten.
Michigan (6-0 Big Ten, 8-1 overall) began on the comeback
trail in its drive following Cobb's touchdown. The Wolverines
-put together a nine-play, 86-yard drive that ended with a 24-
yard Garrett Rivas field goal with 6:27 left to bring Michigan
within 14. The drive was fueled by a 46-yard bomb to Edwards,
who had struggled in the game's first three quarters.
On the ensuing kickoff, sophomore fullback Brian Thomp-
son recovered Rivas's onside kick.
"It was not meant for us to lose," Edwards said. "If you get
an onside kick, it's like maybe we're supposed to win. It's
~divine intervention - it comes from above. I got down on my
knees and thanked God. I said, 'God, you put us in a situation
to make it happen.' "
Henne got the Wolverines in the endzone in just 15 seconds,
completing an 11-yard pass to Mike Hart - which was cou-
pled with a 15-yard face-mask penalty against Michigan State
- and then airing it out to Edwards for a 36-yard touchdown.
On the reception, Michigan State cornerback Jaren Hayes had
positioning, but Edwards just reached over Hayes's head and
ripped the ball away before coming down in the endzone.
After two penalties on Michigan State's next drive - a
problem that marred coach John L. Smith's team all day as it
'accumulated 14 penalties for 123 yards - the Spartans punted
to Michigan with 3:24 left.
Hart started the drive with a 26-yard run up the Michigan
sideline. Immediately following the run, Edwards reflected the
mounting excitement with a shimmy at the Michigan State 20-
yard line. And on the very next play, Edwards sent Michigan
Senior Braylon Edwards had three touchdowns and 189 yards to help lead Michigan in Its 4537 comeback victory over Michigar
Stadium into absolute pandemonium, as he once again beat
Hayes in single coverage for a 21-yard touchdown, tying the
game at 27.
"(Edwards) made some unbelievable catches, and if he
doesn't make those plays, we're not standing here," Carr said.
"He was an All-American today, and he's been an All-Ameri-
can all year long."
Michigan State (3-2, 4-4) tried to end the game with a 51-
yard field goal into a strong wind as time expired, but kicker
Dave Rayner missed short and left.
In overtime, Michigan State won the coin toss and elected
to play defense first. The Wolverines failed to get a first down
in their drive and took a 30-27 lead on a 34-yard field goal by
Rivas. Michigan State drove the ball effectively in its posses-
sion and faced a third-and-one from the four-yard line. The
Spartans sent Cobb, who finished with a career-high 205 yards
rushing, straight up the gut. But Michigan's defensive line got
a great push, and senior Roy Manning tackled Cobb for a two-
yard loss. Rayner converted a 23-yard field goal to send the
game into a second overtime.
Michigan State had the initial drive that time around. After
a 15-yard completion from Damon Dowdell - who played the
entire second half after Spartan starter Drew Stanton dislocat-
ed his right shoulder on a second-quarter hit by LaMarr Wood-
ley - to Agim Shabaj, Michigan State rode Jason Teague into
the endzone, giving the junior the ball three straight times.
The Wolverines tied the game at 37 with a five-play drive that
ended in the corner of the endzone on a third-and-goal touch-
down grab by an outstretched Jason Avant, who had dislocated
his finger earlier in the game.
In the third overtime, Michigan had the first possession.
On third-and-nine, Henne found Edwards wide open over the
middle, and the senior scampered into the endzone for a 24-
"They were trying to decide who was going to take me,"
Edwards said "Toward the end of the game, they were man-
ning Roderick Maples up, so whenever Hayes was on me, they
would switch and put Maples back on me. So I think Hayes
was expecting Maples to come over and he didn't, so they were
probably a little off guard."
Following two sub-par games, Edwards put his name back
in the Heisman Trophy race with 11 catches and 189 yards for
three touchdowns. Most of Edwards's production came in the
fourth quarter and overtime.
"I knew what number they were going to dial, and I knew I
had to answer the call," Edwards said.
After a spectacular two-point conversion catch by Tim Mas-
saquoi (by NCAA rules, teams must go for two after the sec-
ond overtime period), Michigan held a 45-37 lead.
Michigan State couldn't do much on what would be its final
drive, and again shot itself in the foot with a big offensive
pass interference penalty on tight end Eric Knott. On fourth
down, Dowdell made one last heave to the endzone, but senior
Markus Curry broke up the pass intended for wide receiver
Aaron Alexander and the celebration began.
"We just kept fighting," junior safety Ernest Shazor said.
"Coach Carr kept telling us we could do it, and we believe in
coach Carr 100 percent."