Penn State falls to Michigan 27-24 in Overtime
"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.
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.
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 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.