Wildcats lose another late lead

By Nader Ihmoud

ANN ARBOR-The Northwestern University Wildcats lost for the third time this season, despite having a lead in the fourth quarter during each of those games.

This time, the University of Michigan Wolverines mounted a comeback, forced overtime, and ultimately defeated the Wildcats 38-31. The Wolverines scored on the first drive of the extra period and their defense forced a turnover on downs to seal the win at Michigan Stadium on Nov. 10.

The Wolverines were trailing the Wildcats 31-28 with less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter when Michigan’s defense forced Northwestern to punt. On the first play of the ensuing drive, Devin Gardner completed a 53 yard pass to Roy Roundtree leading to the game tying field goal by Michigan kicker Brendan Gibbons.

“It wasn’t a Hail Mary they just threw a post route,” Head Coach Ryan Fitzgerald said. “Our post players [are] there [so the] post players got to make the pay.”

Before the miraculous catch by Roundtree, the Wildcats had a chance to run out the clock and leave the “Big House” with a victory, but the Wolverines’ defense were able to force a punt that left just enough time on the clock for a punt return and a few plays.

Wildcats punter Brandon Williams attempted to punt the ball deep in Wolverines’ territory and out of bounds but allowed the ball to be fielded and returned 23 yards to the Michigan 38-yard line.

“We try to punt the ball out of bounds in that situation and [he] just dropped the ball,” said Fitzgerald.

The Wildcats offense was not an issue in the loss and executed their offensive attack efficiently for a majority of the game. They failed to win a game after gaining more than 324 yards for the first time this season. Northwestern had 431 total yards of offense.

Trevor Siemian, who only played during two offensive drives, sent the Wildcats into the second half with momentum with a six play 56 yard drive that ended with a touchdown. Siemian connected with Cameron Dickerson in the end zone from 19 yards out to tie the game at 14.

Siemian put on an even better show when his number was called for the second time, with his team trailing 28-24. Starting quarterback Kain Colter left the game with a head injury and was replaced by Siemian for the rest of that drive late in the final quarter of regulation. The back up quarterback took over on the 40-yard line and ended the drive with a 15-yard touch down completion to Tony Jones that gave the Wildcats their final lead of the game, 31-28.

“I’m always ready to play,” said Siemian. “I had my confidence but I wasn’t going to go out there with my tail between my legs, if I hadn’t played earlier in the game.”

Colter, who finished the game for the Wildcats, ended the game with more than 200 total yards and a touchdown pass. Despite the Wildcats ability to move the ball during regulation, they failed to execute with the game on the line.

A common sentiment in the post-game press conference was the team was prepared just a few plays short of a victory.

“We’re able to make a lot of plays, but obviously not enough,” said Jones.

The wolverines are 4-0 in overtime games played at Michigan stadium.

Northwestern will return to Evanston to prepare for the Michigan State University Spartans on Nov. 17 in East Lansing, Mich.