By GEOFF MEHL, Staff Reporter
The Michigan Wolverines (5-7) fell in disappointing fashion, 42-28, to their rival the Ohio State Buckeyes (11-1) Saturday at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.
After losing quarterback J.T. Barrett to a lower leg injury in the fourth quarter, Ohio State, up 28-21, found itself facing fourth-and-one on the Michigan 44-yard line with just over five minutes to go. Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer decided to go for it and handed it sophomore running back Ezekial Elliott, who gashed up the middle taking it to the house.
The touchdown put the Buckeyes up 42-21, with 4:58 left to go in the game, clinching the rivalry win and an undefeated record in the Big Ten three seasons in a row.
“The last fourth-and-one, we just misfit the run,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “Probably overplayed the other side of the formation more than we should’ve but you have to give them credit too.”
Ohio State had 416 yards of offense in the game. Barrett led the Buckeyes in passing with 176 yards and a touchdown. Elliott rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
Barrett also carried the ball 15 times for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
The Michigan offense finished with 372 yards and was led by quarterback Devin Gardner.
Gardner had 233 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception. He also rushed the ball 14 times for 62 yards.
Drake Johnson led the team in rushing, carrying the ball 15 times for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
Wide receiver Devin Funchess led the team in receiving with seven catches for 108 yards. Tight end Jake Butt also added four catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
“I’m really proud of this football team, disappointed for them but as a group they hung together,” Hoke said.
In the first quarter, Michigan started off sloppy. After an interception on Gardner’s first throw of the game by Ohio State defensive back Vonn Bell, the Buckeyes took advantage. Ohio State’s drive lasted six plays for 41 yards, when Barrett hit tight end Nick Vannett on a roll out for six yards and the touchdown.
Then on Michigan’s third drive of the game, the Wolverines got even and tied the game. Gardner led a seven play, 80-yard drive capped off by a 12-yard touchdown pass to Butt.
In the second quarter, Michigan put together an impressive drive to take a 14-7 lead. It lasted 15 plays for 95-yards and took 7:35 off the clock before Johnson rushed it in from 2-yards out for the score.
“When they got the ball at the five they said they were going to go 95 yards,” Hoke said. “That’s what they did.”
With just over two minutes left in the first half, Ohio State was able to get even going into the half. Barrett led the Buckeyes on a 10 play, 83-yard drive before punching a 25-yard touchdown run in with just seven seconds remaining in the half.
Michigan had 203 yards of offense in the first half, rushing the ball for 74 yards and passing for 129 yards. The Wolverines had 13 first downs and led Ohio State in time of possession with 18:52.
Ohio State had 176 yards of offense with 111 rushing and 65 passing. The Buckeyes had nine first downs and had four penalties for a total of 34 yards.
In the third quarter, it only took 1:52 for the Buckeyes to take the lead. Barrett led Ohio State on a five play, 72-yard drive, which ended in a 2-yard run by Barrett to the corner of the end zone, putting the Buckeyes up 21-14.
On the next drive, the Wolverines got even again. After a halfback pass from Johnson to Gardner down to the four yard line, Johnson punched it in for his second touchdown of the afternoon.
Before the quarter was over, the Buckeyes were able to regain the lead. After a 14 play, 81-yard drive, Elliott was able to run one in from 2-yards out to take the lead, 28-21 going into the fourth.
The fourth quarter turned out to be all Buckeyes. After the 44-yard touchdown run by Elliott to put Ohio State up by 14, defensive end Joey Bosa caused a Gardner fumble that linebacker Darron Lee returned for 33-yard touchdown to take the lead 42-21.
At the end of the game, Michigan added to their score when Gardner hit freshman receiver Freddy Canteen for a 3-yard touchdown, capping the Wolverines’ loss.
Michigan’s season ends with a 5-7 record.