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Michigan rallies past Northwestern in OT

The SportsXchange

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan put together a second-half comeback and kept its narrowing Rose Bowl hopes alive with a 38-31 overtime victory over Northwestern on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

Quarterback Devin Gardner scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in overtime, and linebacker Kenny Demens stopped Tyris Jones of Northwestern on fourth-and-2 to end the game.

Gardner started at quarterback in place of Denard Robinson, who sat out his second straight game because of an ulnar nerve injury in his right arm.

Gardner's 53-yard pass to Roy Roundtree set up Brendan Gibbons' 26-yard field goal with eight seconds left to send the game into overtime. Roundtree made a leaping catch before he fell at the Northwestern nine-yard line.

"He just put it up there for me," said Roundtree, who had five catches for 139 yards. "I told him all game, 'Just put it up there for me and I'll go get it for you.'

"I tipped it in the air, to myself, and it came down and there were no reviews."

Roundtree later admitted that he wasn't sure whether or not the pass was tipped in the air by a Northwestern defender, but he and Gardner credited their team's poise under pressure.

"There's no option not to score," Gardner said of the final seconds of regulation. "This team worked way too hard to get to this point, to not be able to score."

Northwestern squandered a lead for the third time in its last five games, all Big Ten losses.

"We got into a slugfest and ended up one play short," said Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, whose team led, 24-14, with 3:57 left in the third quarter after Jeff Budzien's 37-yard field goal.

"That's happened three times to us. The reality is, we're a dominant football team. We've just got to find a way to make that one more play."

Venric Mark, who had 23 carries for 104 yards, gave Northwestern (7-3, 3-3 in the Big Ten) a 7-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game on a three-yard touchdown run that completed a 10-play, 78-yard drive.

Less than six minutes later, Gardner, who completed 16-of-29 passes for 286 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, tied the game for the Wolverines (7-3, 5-1) on an eight-yard touchdown run, diving to the end zone and clipping the pylon with the football.

Michigan and Northwestern exchanged second-quarter turnovers, with Kain Colter's fumble on third-and-five from the Northwestern 49 setting up Thomas Rawls' go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard run with 6:17 left to give Michigan a 14-7 lead.

However, Northwestern tied the game, 14-14, with 25 seconds left in the half on Trevor Siemian's 19-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Dickerson.

The Wildcats converted a key third-down less than three minutes into the second half, before Dan Vitale caught Colter's screen pass and went 23 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats a 21-14 lead.

Buzdien's field goal gave Northwestern a 10-point lead and Michigan cut Northwestern's lead to 24-21 on Fitz Toussaint's 23-yard touchdown two minutes later.

With 8:51 left in the fourth quarter, Gardner found Devin Funchess in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown to make it 28-24.

Tony Jones' 15-yard touchdown catch with 3:59 left gave Northwestern a 31-28 lead before Gibbon's field goal sent the game to overtime.

In overtime, Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs said his team's plan was succinct.

"Let's get a stop, win this game and let's go home," Kovacs said.

NOTES: Coach Brady Hoke of Michigan said Denard Robinson, who sat out the second straight game because of a nerve injury, is "day-to-day." ... Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs was awarded the No. 11 jersey for Saturday's game against Northwestern, part of the Michigan Football Legends initiative. Francis, Albert and Alvin Wistert shared the No. 11 jersey at Michigan; all three Wistert brothers earned first-team All-American honors, which has never been duplicated by three brothers at any level of college competition. ... Michigan also honored Barry Larkin, former Cincinnati Reds shortstop and baseball Hall of Famer, who played baseball for the Wolverines from 1983 to 1985.

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