by Jonah Rosenblum (@jonahlrosenblum)
Drive Summary: It wouldn’t happen again for the bulk of the first half, but Northwestern’s defense looked good to start, as Quentin Williams was highly active on the line.
Senior defensive end Quentin Williams was the hero of Northwestern’s first defensive stand. Williams began with an impressive pass breakup, as he inserted himself in the middle of an attempted screen pass. Williams then chased down Fitzgerald Toussaint on a run to the left sideline to force third and long. Williams’ ability to keep up with Toussaint was most impressive. Finally, on third down, senior defensive back Quinn Evans played perfect defense over the middle to force the punt.
Drive Summary: Northwestern got on the board first with their rush game showing up early.
Northwestern began with two rushes for minus-two yards. The Wildcats displayed tremendous athleticism for the remainder of the drive, however, beginning with Christian Jones’ spectacular one-handed grab by the left sideline. Jones was wide open, and Colter overthrew him, but Jones bailed him out with the fantastic grab, corralling it with one hand and then quickly covering it up with the other as he fell to the ground. Northwestern wasn’t done, however, as Kain Colter bounced out of the pocket and easily won his one-on-one matchup in the middle of the field using his explosive speed to pick up another first down. Colter then waited beautifully on a pitch, absorbing a huge hit, in order to free Mike Trumpy for a huge run around the left end. Mark polished off the drive with a couple of rushes, the final one featuring a beautiful cut left into the end zone.
NORTHWESTERN 7 – MICHIGAN 0 (8:19 1st Quarter)
Drive Summary: Michigan escaped numerous third downs behind the running of Devin Gardner. Fittingly, it was Gardner who capped the drive with a dive over the right pylon, to tie the score at seven.
Northwestern’s defense against the screen pass was once again picture perfect as Jared Carpenter came on a safety blitz and possessed the instincts to halt and raise his arms to break up the pass. It was all for naught, however, as Devin Gardner found Jeremy Gallon on a curl to pick up the first down for Michigan. Devin Gardner came through with another third-down conversion on a third-and-three, sliding across the line to bring the Wolverines near midfield. On the next play, the Wildcats caught a break, as Fitzgerald Toussaint slipped in traffic as he tried to turn around the left end. The Wolverines lost six yards on the play. Devin Gardner again got Michigan out of a hole, however, with a 32-yard pass to Roy Roundtree, made worse by Demetrius Dugar running right past Roundtree in his attempt to deflect the ball. That allowed Roundtree to pick up an additional 15 yards. Northwestern’s defensive sloppiness continued as the Wildcats jumped offsides on consecutive plays, also committing pass interference on the second, a pass over the middle to Roundtree. That put Michigan nine yards from pay dirt, and Gardner capped off the drive diving over the right pylon on a fake handoff keeper to the right sideline. Northwestern’s inability to walk off the field after numerous third downs and a second-and-15 killed it.
NORTHWESTERN 7 – MICHIGAN 7 (2:27 1st Quarter)
Drive Summary: Northwestern failed to respond as Colter missed a wide open Christian Jones down the left sideline.
The Wildcats’ second drive fell flat due to a couple of poor decisions from Colter. First, he elected to rush it in the middle, not seeing that defensive end Frank Clark was lurking, ready to bring him down after a short gain. The gap through the middle was deceptive. On third down, Michigan’s pressure kept Colter from seeing a wide open Christian Jones, emphatically waving his arms along the left sideline.
Drive Summary: Michigan was driving again, behind Gardner and Toussaint’s rushing efforts, but the Wolverines bailed the Wildcats out with a fumble, forced by safety Jared Carpenter.
Northwestern’s defense continued to fail on third down. After another pass breakup on the line, the Wildcats allowed Gardner to escape pressure and twirl his way past the marker for another Michigan first down. Toussaint then burst free around the left end, but as he was juking his way toward the end zone, Jared Carpenter alertly poked it free, sending the ball spiraling into the sky and into Northwestern’s hands.
Drive Summary: Northwestern returned the favor as Kain Colter fumbled the ball under duress.
Colter came up with a twisting run to the right, completing leaving several defenders in the dust to escape the shadow of its own end zone. Then, Mark came through on the pitch, speeding his way along the right sideline to draw the Wildcats near midfield. But Northwestern stalled at midfield, and Michigan’s pressure forced a Colter fumble, which middle linebacker Joe Bolden pounced upon.
Drive Summary: Unlike Northwestern, Michigan was able to take advantage of a fumble, as Thomas Rawls cut through the left side of the offensive line into the end zone to take a 14-7 lead.
Drive Summary: Michigan took the lead behind more third-down magic from Gardner and a touchdown from Rawls.
Michigan began where it left off, with Gardner spinning out of one sack and then finding Jeremy Gallon on a run to the right sideline for another Michigan first down. The Wildcats continued to stuff the inside run, however, stopping Thomas Rawls for a loss of one. Gardner, however, came up with his umpteenth third-down rush up the middle, escaping the Wildcats’ pressure for another Wolverines’ first down. For all of Northwestern’s success stopping Toussaint up the middle, the Wildcats looked horrendous covering up the outside and containing the quarterback. Northwestern again clogged up the middle, to drag down Michigan’s goal-line offense, but finally, Rawls got a second push around the left end, cutting inward for the touchdown.
MICHIGAN 14 – NORTHWESTERN 7 (6:17 2nd Quarter)
Drive Summary: Five consecutive rushes netted a single first down, as Michigan’s defense kept Colter in check to force a Northwestern punt.
Northwestern continued to fool no one, as Michigan saw the option coming from afar. The Wildcats failed to air it out for the entire drive and had to punt after recording a single first down. Brandon Williams provided a bright spot with his 53-yard roller to the Michigan six-yard line.
Drive Summary: Trevor Siemian entered the game and quickly came up with a number of deep completions, including a touchdown pass to Cameron Dickerson around the left pylon.
Unfortunately, I missed much of Michigan's non-existent drive, since I misheard someone's comment that "Nick VanHoose is a redshirt" as "Grey Goose is a vegetable." Please don't ask how. Anyway, the Wolverines were quickly forced to punt. The Wildcats had the ball with a chance to run a two-minute drive to tie the score before halftime. Given great field position, Trevor Siemian, with the quarterback switch, began with a short toss to Dan Vitale followed by a rush across midfield for the first down. Siemian had a nice heave down the right sideline, by Tony Jones again struggled with his hands, bobbling and eventually dropping what would have been a touchdown grab. The Wildcats dug their way out of a third-and-long, however, as Siemian found Christian Jones wide open over the middle for 21 yards. Siemian then looked left and found Cameron Dickerson, who turned around to grab the short pass for a touchdown. Dickerson was actually well-covered, but he turned around beautifully at the left pylon, leaving his defensive back behind.
NORTHWESTERN 14 - MICHIGAN 14 (0:25 2nd Quarter)