Wolves Hold Off 'Bama In OT
Michigan came from behind twice, then held on in overtime to win.
Ryan Pflugner missed an extra-point attempt by inches on the final play to give the Wolverines a 35-34 victory over Alabama on Saturday night in the Orange Bowl.
"Everyone is going to blame me," said Pflugner, a senior. "I missed the last kick. It came down to an extra point I should have made. But it's a team game. Everyone probably could have done something to make it better."
After Michigan's Shawn Thompson caught a 25-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime, Alabama scored on Andrew Zow's 21-yard pass to Antonio Carter. But Pflugner's extra-point attempt was just wide to the right.
"This is the greatest ending to a game ever," Michigan linebacker Ian Gold said.
His coach, Lloyd Carr, was less exuberant.
"It was a great football game," Carr said. "It was a shame somebody had to lose. As much I enjoy winning, I hate to see it end the way it did, with a missed extra point."
The Wolverines won even though they lost a fumble at the Alabama 1 in the fourth quarter and had a 36-yard field goal attempt blocked to force the overtime.
Shaun Alexander, the Southeastern Conference player of the year, rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns in his final game for Alabama. His scoes came on runs of 5, 6 and 50 yards, and teammate Freddie Milons scored on a 62-yard punt return.
Alabama's missed extra point in overtime gave Michigan the Orange Bowl.
"Everybody said we weren't good enough, but we showed them," said Terrell, who caught 10 passes for 150 yards.
The fifth-ranked Crimson Tide (10-3) lost in their 50th bowl game, an NCAA record.
"It hurts," Milons said. "It really, really hurts, especially when you've played as hard as you can."
The Wolverines' first six possessions produced just one first down, which came on a 5-yard gain on a fake punt. The offense finally mustered a first down with 1:18 left in the opening half, then scored two plays later on a 27-yard pass from Brady to Terrell.
The Wolverines erased deficits of 14-0 and 28-14 thanks to Terrell, who tied Orange Bowl and Michigan bowl records with three touchdown receptions.
Brady, who was 34-for-46, led Michigan to three touchdowns in a 12-minute span in the third quarter.
The comeback wasn't the first by the Wolverines, who rallied from fourth-quarter deficits to win three times during the regular season.
"They've done that all year long," Carr said. "I'll be glad to get rid of them; I don't have much heart left."
Phillip Weeks blocked a field-goal attempt by Hayden Epstein as time ran out in the fourth quarter, forcing the overtime. Earlier in the period, Anthony Thomas lost a fumble at the Alabama 1.
"Everything is not rose petals when it's a street fight," Terrell said.
Attendance based on tickets sold was 70,461, but the actual crowd totaled only about 50,000. The no-shows missed a game filled with penalties and punts but also plenty of big plays and swings in momentum.
Alexander turned a third-and-1 run into a 50-yard touchdown, breaking three tackles to give Alabama a 21-14 lead in the third quarter. Less than three minutes later, Milons caught a 51-yard punt, weaved across the field and scored untouched to make it 28-14.
The Wolverines made the score 14-all on their first series of the second half. Terrell aught a short pass from Brady, eluded cornerback Milo Lewis and sprinted the end zone, completing a 57-yard play.
Terrell beat Lewis again in the third quarter for a 20-yard score.
Alabama picked up only one first down in the opening quarter, but a 32-yard run by Alexander got the Tide rolling. The play started a 76-yard drive that ended with Alexander's 5-yard touchdown run.
Three minutes later, Alabama scored again. Milons' 23-punt return and a late-hit penalty gave the Tide the ball at the Michigan 31, and Alexander's 6-yard touchdown run made the score 14-0.
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