Penn State falls to Michigan 27-24 in Overtime

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Paterno's Lions remain unbeaten in regulation, falling only in OT during the 2002 season.
Paterno's Lions remain unbeaten in regulation, falling only in OT during the 2002 season.
Ann Arbor, MI - As much of the college football world focused on contests between Oklahoma/Texas and Florida State/Miami, 111,502 fans in Ann Arbor zeroed in on the tenth ever meeting between Penn State (AP #15) and Michigan (AP #13). In a game with immense national and Big Ten implications, Penn State fell to Michigan in an overtime thriller 27-24.

"They have been better physically and better coached," said Penn State coach Joe Paterno of the Wolverines. "I think Lloyd Carr at Michigan might be the most underrated coach in the country. I think over the last four or five years Michigan has gotten about as much out of their material as anybody could get. I can't say that necessarily for myself. I don't know. I think they have done a great job against us. They have been tougher physically than we have been."

In a game with no turnovers and few penalties, both squads saved their best until the end. Penn State led 13-7 at the end of the third quarter, having scored on a 17-yard TD run by Larry Johnson (17 carries for 78 yards, 1 TD), and a nine-yard touchdown pass from Zack Mills (19 for 31, 264 yards, 2 TDs) to Mike Lukac. The touchdown was the first of Lukac's career at Penn State.

Walk-on tight end Mike Lukac lands in the end zone with the first TD catch of his career at Penn State.
Walk-on tight end Mike Lukac lands in the end zone with the first TD catch of his career at Penn State.
The fourth quarter was a shootout with Michigan drawing first, scoring on a 12 play, 80 yard drive, capped by a 5-yard strike from John Navarre (27-41, 244 yards, 2 TDs) to Braylon Edwards to give the Wolverines their first lead at 14-13.

Penn State's offense shifted into a higher gear in the final period of regulation, led by quarterback Zack Mills. "He's a very mobile guy," said Michigan coach Lloyd Carr of the Lion signal caller. "Penn State is tremendous on third-down conversions offensively and I think that's because Mills gives you a lot of options. He's has very good athletic ability scrambling out of there. He gets better every game, he's improved in the pocket and can make plays when they break down."

Penn State answered Michigan's touchdown with a 19-yard scoring pass across the middle to Bryant Johnson and upped the ante by adding a two-point conversion to make up for an earlier missed extra point.

Bryant Johnson had seven catches for 136 yards, with a long of 53 yards, giving him his third 100-yard game this season. The receiver's 97 career receptions place him at sixth best in school history.

Johnson pulled in 7 catches for 138 yards. He now has 3 100-yard games this season, and his 97 catches put him at sixth on the all-time receiving list.
Johnson pulled in 7 catches for 138 yards. He now has 3 100-yard games this season, and his 97 catches put him at sixth on the all-time receiving list.
Johnson's touchdown briefly put the Lions back in control at 21-14, only to watch Michigan fight right back, driving 64 yards on the ensuing possession to tie the score and set the game up for overtime.

Penn State had one last shot before OT, driving from their own 20 yard line to the Michigan 49, but on third and five a long sideline pass caught by Tony Johnson was controversially ruled out of bounds directly in front of the Penn State bench. Television replays demonstrated conclusively that Johnson was in bounds, but that information came too late for Penn State. One can only wonder what Zack Mills could have done with 40 seconds and two timeouts remaining.

David Royer punted deep, and with only a half-minute remaining John Navarre took a knee to send the game into OT.

Penn State hoped to change its luck in their third overtime game ever and their first on the road. The Lions started with the ball and converted a 20-yard field goal by Robbie Gould to go ahead 24-21. Michigan now had to convert a field goal of their own to force a second OT, or a touchdown to win outright.

The Tony Johnson catch ruled out of bounds with 40 seconds remaining.
The Tony Johnson catch ruled out of bounds with 40 seconds remaining.
The Lion defense wasn't going to make it easy, and on the fifth play of Michigan's overtime possession Chris Harell nearly picked off a Navarre pass intended for Bennie Joppru at the goal line. Two plays later tailback Chris Perry pounded his way through the center of the line for a three yard TD, ending the game and earning Michigan the victory.

The contest was the eighth time in ten meetings that both teams entered the game ranked in the Associated Press poll - the higher ranked team has now come away with victories in six of the eight matchups.

Michigan looks to continue its winning ways Saturday at Purdue. Penn State returns to Happy Valley for their only home contest in the month of October, squaring off against Northwestern.

Penn State and Michigan are not scheduled to play again until 2005.


 

 

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