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Gophers allow 28-7 lead to escape

10/11/2003

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- John Navarre directed the biggest comeback in
Michigan history and put the Wolverines back into the thick of the
Big Ten race.

Garrett Rivas kicked a 33-yard field goal with 47 seconds left
to cap Michigan's 31-point fourth quarter as
the Wolverines (No. 19 ESPN/USA Today, No. 20 AP) rallied for a 38-35 victory over Minnesota (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 17 AP) on
Friday night.

"It just speaks to the human spirit," Michigan coach Lloyd
Carr said. "And those kids showed tremendous spirit."

The win was the Wolverines' 15th straight over the Golden
Gophers in the 100th anniversary of the game that began the series
for the Little Brown Jug.

Michigan trailed 28-7 at the start of the fourth quarter, but
the Wolverines (5-2, 2-1 Big Ten) pulled within 35-28 on Navarre's
52-yard TD pass to Braylon Edwards with 10:18 left in the game.

Trailing 35-28, Michigan got the ball back at its own 40 with
just over eight minutes to play. On second down, Navarre, who came
into the game 0-6 on the road against ranked teams, connected with
Chris Perry for an 18-yard gain to the Minnesota 13. Two plays
later, Perry ran it in for a 10-yard score to tie the game.

The comeback eclipsed Michigan's rally from 17 down for an 18-17
victory over Virginia in 1995.

"We made up our minds that we've got to win this game,"
Navarre said. "We kept on the roll and got some good breaks with
our defense and special teams. We made up our minds and were not
denied."

Minnesota (6-1, 2-1), which looked to be on its way to its first
win over Michigan since 1986, went three-and-out on its next
possession and Michigan got the ball back at their own 42.

Navarre converted on fourth down with a 1-yard plunge to the
Gophers' 48. He also found Perry for a 10-yard gain on third down
to the Minnesota 22. Navarre took a knee on third down after Tim
Massaquoi recovered a fumble by Perry at the 14.

That set up Rivas' kick.

"I only get worried if he's trying from 65," Perry said.

After the kick, Minnesota quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq had an
18-yard run to midfield negated by a penalty. Two plays later
Markus Curry intercepted Abdul-Khaliq at the Michigan 14 to seal
the game.

"I've never been in a game like this," Perry said.

Michigan's emotional win came a week after a disappointing loss
to Iowa that dropped the Wolverines from No. 9 to 20.

Perry, who entered the game as the nation's fifth-leading rusher
at 129 yards per game, was held to 85 on the ground. But he caught
11 passes for 122 yards and his 10-yard reception in the fourth
quarter started the rally.

"I think that was a turning point because we answered
quickly," Carr said. "From that point forward, we had a
tremendous sense of confidence."

Just 1:24 after Perry's catch, Jacob Stewart picked off
Abdul-Khaliq and ran it back for a 34-yard score to make it 28-21.

Navarre finished 33-of-47 for 353 yards with an interception and
two touchdown passes. He also ran for a score in the third quarter.

Minnesota's collapse wasted a great effort on the ground and the
most points the Gophers have scored against Michigan since 1937.

The Gophers outgained the Wolverines 424-94 on the ground.

"You can never just say you won the game because of how many
yards you rushed for," Abdul-Khaliq said. "You have to go out,
and at the end of the game, you have to be up by a point."

Marion Barber III ran for 197 yards on 21 carries and set a school record in the first quarter with his 14th rushing touchdown
of the season. Freshman Laurence Maroney ran for 81 yards and two
scores, while Abdul-Khaliq finished with 106 yards on nine carries
-- including a 52-yard TD in the fourth that made it 35-21.

The game was moved to Friday to avoid a potential conflict with
a Minnesota Twins' playoff game.

The Gophers haven't beaten Michigan in Minneapolis since 1977.

A win would have legitimized Minnesota's record and Top 25
ranking. The Gophers took criticism for padding their record with
soft nonconference opponents.

Michigan avoided losing for the third time in four games.

In the first three quarters, the Wolverines looked nothing like
the team that shut out Notre Dame 38-0 last month.

Navarre struggled to find his rhythm in the deafening Metrodome
and his receivers missed several passes.

Minnesota cornerback Justin Isom intercepted Navarre in the
third quarter and fullback Thomas Tapeh scored on a 2-yard run to
put Minnesota up 28-7 with 58 seconds left in the quarter.

"We still played our hearts out," Abdul-Khaliq said. "We just
didn't finish."

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