By JERAMY STOVER, Sports Editor
While their defense was raging and their kickers were missing, the Michigan Wolverines offense only needed to make one play to win the football game.
And Wilton Speight answered the call and made the play happen.
With 7:56 remaining in the fourth quarter, Speight hit Amara Darboh down the sideline for a 46-yard touchdown pass that would end up the game winning score as Michigan took down the Wisconsin Badgers 14-7.
“I think (this win) says a lot about our team, Wisconsin is a very tough football team very good defense, very good offense and I think us beating this team says a lot about our character says a lot about the players on our team,” Darboh said. “But we need to focus on the games ahead because this win doesn’t define our season.”
It took until four seconds into the second quarter for anyone to put points on the board. Khalid Hill rushed for his fifth touchdown of the season by running for a one-yard touchdown, giving Michigan (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) a 7-0 lead. That lead would hold all the way through nearly half of the third quarter.
As the Wolverines were driving into Wisconsin (4-1, 1-1) territory, Speight threw a pass that deflected off a Badger defender and was intercepted by Derrick Tindal, who returned the ball 46-yards to the Michigan 31-yard line. Just five plays later, Wisconsin finally tied the game up with a 17-yard touchdown pass.
The following drive Michigan was marching down the field and looking to respond to the Badgers’ score. The drive stalled, setting up a 40-yard field goal for Ryan Tice. The starting kicker Kenny Allen was pulled because of missing two previous field goals. Tice would miss his field goal as well, keeping the game tied at seven.
With 2:15 left in the fourth quarter and Michigan leading 14-7, Wisconsin faced a fourth down from their own eight-yard line. Badgers quarterback Alex Hornibrook fired a pass down the middle of the field that was intercepted by senior cornerback Jourdan Lewis on a ridiculous one-handed catch. Lewis jumped a bit too early and had to catch the ball while in mid-air and pin the ball to his body to keep it from falling out of his hands.
“The ball was in the air and I knew I could make a play on it either knock it down or do what I did, so it was just instincts really,” Lewis said about his interception.
Compared to what was said from his teammate and head coach, it didn’t appear to be just instincts.
“We see him make a lot of plays but that was on another level I think. I think he jumped and floated for five yards and then somehow caught it with one hand,” Speight said.
“The most impressive thing about it was (Lewis) jumped a little early and I was a little nervous that he was gonna come down and the ball was going to just go over his fingertips, but he was able to hang in the air and made a spectacular play. It was a spectacular football play,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said.
The Wolverines certainly had their struggles against Wisconsin. Not only did they leave nine points on the board with three missed field goals, they also finished the game with six penalties. They actually had another few penalties called on them, but Wisconsin elected to decline them.
Speight completed 20-of-32 passes for 219 yards and one touchdown. De’veon Smith led the rushing attack with 66-yards on 17 carries. Darboh had 87-yards on six catches including his touchdown.
The Wolverines were led by their defense that held Wisconsin to just 159 total yards, including just 2.5 yards on the ground. Michigan’s defensive line was pressuring Hornibrook all game long. Hornibrook completed only 36 percent of his passes and threw for three interceptions.
Senior defensive linemen Taco Charlton, Ryan Glasgow and Chris Wormley all recorded one sack a piece. But they were in the face of Hornibrook for most of the game.
This was Michigan’s first win against a top-10 opponent since 2008. Next week will be the Wolverines’ first road game when they travel to Rutgers. That game is scheduled for a 8 p.m. kickoff.