BY CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Staff Reporter
After a big win against the Purdue Boilermakers for Homecoming, the Wolverines traveled to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes in a Big Ten Legends Division match-up, only to fall short late in the fourth quarter.
The Wolverines had many chances to win, including 4 times while on the 3-yard line with 12 seconds left in the game. Unable to answer the Iowa defense, the Wolverines fell 24-16.
The game started out rough as the Wolverines quickly went three and out on their first drive of the game, and looked slow on defense too. The Hawkeyes, led by junior quarterback James Vandenberg, drove quickly down the field and finished a 3-minute drive gaining 76 yards in 6 plays with a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Marcus Coker.
The Wolverines would answer two drives later. A touchdown by way of quarterback Denard Robinson putting up a 5-yard pass to running back Fitzgerald Touissant closed the gap from 7-0 to 7-6 after a botched hold on the point after attempt (PAT).
The Wolverines defense did hold up a bit after allowing the early touchdown to Coker. The Hawkeyes only gained 31 yards after the Coker touchdown. The Wolverines started the second quarter with the ball but were unable to gain more than 21 yards in 5 plays and had to punt it away.
The lack of offense early in the second quarter would cost them as Vandenberg connected with senior tight end Brad Herman for a 1-yard touchdown reception after 11 plays, amassing 78 yards in just over 5 minutes of time. The Wolverines once again had no answer, going down 14-6 after Robinson fumbled the ball.
That fumble would hurt Michigan as Mike Meyer kicked a 42-yard field goal to extend the Hawkeye lead to 17-6 late in the first half. The sun started to shine for the offense as a bad kick and a good return put the Wolverines at their own 49-yard line. A 16-yard pass to wide receiver Junior Hemingway and a 19-yard Robinson rush put the Wolverines in the red zone at the Iowa 13-yard line. Unfortunately, Robinson was picked off in the end zone leaving the Wolverines still down by 11 points.
Going into halftime, the Wolverines needed a big turnaround from not only their offense but their defense as well. The defense did their job early as did the offense. The Wolverine defense had to stop a powerful attack from Iowa with their first possession of the second half and they did so, only allowing 7 yards on 5 plays. The Hawkeyes quickly punted and the Michigan offense did get going a bit. After 10 plays and 45 yards Brandon Gibbons was able to kick a 32-yard field goal to shorten the lead to 17-9.
After at least scoring some points, the Wolverines did have more momentum than the Hawkeyes and the defense once again did their job, stopping the Hawkeyes yet again on the following drive, allowing just 1 yard. The offense fell flat after that as sophomore quarterback Devin Gardner came in to captain. They had to punt after 6 plays gaining only 3 yards.
Iowa was able to use that horrible Michigan drive to their advantage as the Hawkeyes ended the third quarter and started the fourth quarter with the ball. They would eventually score on that drive with a Coker 13-yard touchdown run. The Hawkeyes would take a 24-9 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Robinson came back out on the following Wolverine drive and found senior tight end Kevin Koger for a 7-yard touchdown reception. That would cut the lead to 24-16 after the good PAT. The defense did their job on the final Iowa possession of the game, holding them to a quick three and out giving the ball back to the Wolverine offense with a chance to cut the lead to 2 points at the end of the fourth quarter.
With 2:15 remaining in the game, Michigan started the final drive on their own 18-yard line. They not only needed some great plays and some good blocks, but a miracle, too. They would eventually get down to the Iowa 3-yard line with 12 seconds to go but were unable to record an “official” touchdown.
Robinson found Hemingway on second down in which he did catch the ball in the end zone, had one knee down and possession but the catch was ruled incomplete as he did not “complete the process of the catch.” Unable to score from the 3-yard line, the Wolverines would lose 24-16.
Fans have been blaming the referees for the loss, but what good does that do? The Wolverines lost this game themselves with some poorly executed plays on offense and defense and not finishing four quarters of a football game.
They were unable to find the end zone in 4 plays, simple as that. The Wolverines will go into their next game with a 7-2 record (3-2 in the Big Ten) against the Fighting Illini of Illinois at 3:30pm at Memorial Stadium. The game will be on either ABC or ESPN. Go Blue!