Missed Opportunities Haunt Wolverines in 4OT Heart-breaker

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With 10:28 left in the 4th quarter, it looked like the Wolverines were going escape a shaky 1st half performance in State College with a victory. Devin Funchess had just hauled in his second touchdown of the day on an exceptional 37-yard pass from Devin Gardner, capping a 24-3 Michigan run in the 2nd half.

 

Even after Penn State kicked a field goal on their next drive to move within a touchdown, the Wolverines looked to be in good shape after 5 minute 35 second drive that left Penn State with only 50 seconds to go 75 yards with no timeouts. The Nittany Lions only needed 21 seconds to find the end zone, taking advantage of several defensive breakdowns to even the score at 34. Devin Gardner rallied the Wolverines into field goal territory with the remaining 29 seconds, but Brendon Gibbons missed a 52-yard attempt with a short kick as time expired.

 

In overtime, it again came down to the execution (or lack thereof) of the field-goal kickers. After Penn State kicker Sam Ficken missed a field goal in the first overtime, Brendan Gibbons’ game-winning field goal attempt was blocked. After trading field goals in the second overtime, Penn State star receiver Allan Robinson fumbled an end-around that Michigan DE Frank Clark secured. The Wolverines set up Gibbons for a straight-on 33-yard field goal, which he missed wide left. After bouncing back to nail a 40-yard field goal in the 4th overtime, Penn State finally found the end zone on a Bill Belton 2 yard run that was set up by a crucial pass interference call on Michigan safety Jarrod Wilson on the previous play.

 

The Wolverines will have many questions to answer after the countless missed opportunities and questionable decisions. Overlooked in all the drama was an incredibly tough performance by Devin Gardner, who overcame two first half interceptions to finish with 240 pass yards and 3 touchdowns, along with 121 rushing yards. Instead, the Wolverines have their work cut out for them to get back into the Legends Division race, facing a tough November schedule with upcoming matchups against Michigan State, Nebraska, Northwestern and Ohio State.

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