By CHRIS ZADOROZNY, Sports Editor
ANN ARBOR – The four-year streak is over! The Michigan Wolverines defeated the Michigan State Spartans this past Saturday, 12-10 in the Big House.
Denard Robinson, who usually leads the way for the Wolverines, didn’t have his usual big running game, but spread the ball around very well while the defense was able to keep the Michigan State offense in check.
The historic win, which would have been an historic loss, turned out to be the 900th in school history, a first for any college football program.
Brendan Gibbons was able to kick the game-winning field goal with only five seconds remaining to take back the Paul Bunyan trophy, which had been residing in East Lansing the past four years. It was the seniors’ first win against the Spartans.
“It feels pretty good,” said senior Jordan Kovacs, who made tackle number 300 of his career against the Spartans.
Robinson, and the rest of the seniors, finally defeated the rival Spartans for the first time in his career.
The first half of the game wasn’t very exciting and going into the second half, the Wolverines were poised to take this game over, but the Spartans wouldn’t let them run away with the game.
“They are a great team, a great defensive team,” said Robinson.
Gibbons kicked a 24-yard field goal early in the second quarter after all of the first quarter was defense, and Matt Wile contributed with a 48-yard field goal later in the first half.
Wide receiver Drew Dileo took the game over, receiving-wise, and put the team on his back when he caught four passes, all in double coverage, for 92 yards combined, with his longest catch a 35-yard reception.
“He’s not the biggest guy, he’s not the fastest guy, but the one things Drew is, he’s a football player,” said Head Coach Brady Hoke.
It was a defensive game all around, especially in the first half. No points were scored in the first quarter and only a total of 75 yards between both teams were gained. The Wolverine offense took over the second quarter featuring two field goals and a lot of Michigan momentum. Going into halftime, the Wolverines were poised to make this game theirs.
That didn’t happen, as a third quarter two-yard touchdown reception by Paul Lang put the Spartans in the drivers seat. Michigan was able to respond early in the fourth quarter with another Gibbons field goal to go up by two points, but it wasn’t enough.
A Dan Conroy field goal put the Spartans back on top, but only by one point. Earlier in the game, he missed a chip shot, a 38-yarder in the second quarter, which turned out to be the difference in the game.
It looked like the game was over late in the fourth quarter when Michigan had to punt, pinning the Spartans back on their own 10-yard line with three and half to play. A huge defensive stand by the Wolverines gave them the ball back off of a punt, and they were able to capitalize.
Denard led his team in the two-minute drill completing a few passes along with a couple of run plays to advance the ball all the way into Spartan territory. A 20-yard pass to Dileo sealed the place from where Gibbons would kick the game-winning field goal.
The 21-yard line in Michigan State territory is where the line stood still. Seconds later, Gibbons put the kick up and it was good. Michigan had taken the lead by just two points, but that’s all they needed.
With five seconds remaining, there was still a kickoff to do, but a couple of laterals wasn’t going to save this game for the Spartans. Students and fans alike rushed the field after and it was a sea of maize and blue on the turf of Michigan Stadium, celebrating the end of the four-year losing streak.
The Paul Bunyan trophy is back in Ann Arbor, right where it belongs. Michigan travels the next couple of weeks, first to Nebraska, and then to Minnesota, before they return home to finish the season in the Big House against Northwestern and Iowa.
Michigan earned this win today, and their defense, although shaky at times, held their ground and allowed Denard to do what he does best, and is able to put the game within reach of winning.
The Wolverines are now 3-0 in the B1G 10 and 5-2 overall, good enough for sole possession of first place in the Legends Division. The B1G 10 Championship in December is looking juicier and juicier, especially to the seniors.
You can catch all of the action against Nebraska next weekend on ESPN2 at 8:00pm.
As always, Go Blue!
To read the original article that appeared in seventh edition of The Michigan Journal, on Tuesday, October 23, 2012, go to www.michiganjournal.org