|Michigan blows lead, loses 24-21 at Iowa|
|Written by UKE MEREDITH AP Sports Writer|
|Sunday, 24 November 2013 00:37|
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Michigan put itself in position for a key win at Iowa by converting turnovers into touchdowns.
But the Wolverines couldn’t do anything against the Hawkeyes defense in the second half — and Devin Gardner fumbled away their last shot at a win.
Jake Rudock threw for 239 yards and a pair of touchdown passes and Iowa rallied from 14 down to beat Michigan 24-21 Saturday.
A fumble recovery by Anthony Hitchens with 2:12 left sealed it for the Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-3 Big Ten), who won their third straight over Michigan at Kinnick Stadium.
Michigan used a pair of Rudock interceptions to race out to a 21-7 halftime lead. But the Hawkeyes held the Wolverines (7-4, 3-4) to just 45 yards in the second half and jumped ahead on a 34-yard field goal by Mike Meyer with 6:02 left.
The Wolverines were outscored 17-0 in the second half. That’s not the momentum they were looking for heading into next weekend’s matchup with rival Ohio State.
“We have guys on scholarship that play defense and we have guys on scholarship that play offense. Part of that is playing as much as you can. Sometime the game is going to be taken away from you and we talk about that all the time. But you know, you have to be a team and we gave up two touchdowns late in the third quarter. When we have a lead we have to hold a lead,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.
Devin Gardner drove Michigan to Iowa’s 31 before he was stripped by Hitchens. He finished with 98 yards passing and two TDs — but all he could think about after afterward was the game-turning fumble.
“I lost the game by myself. I fumbled the ball when they trusted me,” Gardner said.
Rudock also threw three interceptions, but he was bailed out by a spectacular effort from Iowa’s defense.
Mark Weisman added 88 yards rushing and a touchdown for Iowa, which has won three straight at home over Michigan.
But after 30 minutes, it didn’t feel like the Hawkeyes were even close to a victory.
The Hawkeyes desperately needed a spark after a rough first half — and Tevaun Smith gave it to them with a brilliant 55-yard touchdown catch.
Smith beat four defenders after grabbing a short slant to pull Iowa within 21-14 with 13:35 left in the third quarter.
Rudock threw his third pick later in the quarter, snuffing out a potential scoring drive. But the Hawkeyes eventually tied it up at 21 when Weisman followed up a successful fourth-down conversion by running through Raymon Taylor for a 9-yard TD with 12:11 left.
Iowa’s defense kept Michigan from putting together any sort of rally. Meyer’s field goal, which was into a stiff wind, wound up being the game winner.
“They stayed true to the game plan. It wasn’t too much out there that they did differently. Just missed opportunities. I think for us as a defense we had some opportunities to get the ball back to our offense and we didn’t do that,” Michigan cornerback Blake Countess said.
It was believed to be the coldest start in the 84-year history of Kinnick Stadium, with a temperature of 18 degrees and a wind chill near zero. Hoke did his best to help his players ignore the cold, defiantly wearing a short-sleeved polo over a long-sleeve t-shirt.
The Wolverines didn’t seem to be bothered by the weather early, as Brennen Beyer intercepted Rudock and returned it seven yards for a touchdown on Iowa’s first play from scrimmage.
Rudock tied at 7-all with a 5-yard TD pass to C.J. Fiedorowicz. But he also threw another terrible pick early in the second quarter to give Michigan the ball at the Iowa 28, and Gardner found A.J. Williams for a 2-yard TD pass and give the Wolverines a 14-7 lead.
Michigan didn’t even score a touchdown in regulation of last week’s 27-19 triple-OT win over Northwestern. The Wolverines had three by halftime on Saturday — despite gaining just 113 yards — as Gardner hit Jeremy Gallon for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
Iowa capped a sloppy half by botching the snap on a 36-yard field goal attempt.
But Smith and the Hawkeyes defense kept Iowa in the game long enough to push past the Wolverines, who eventually committed the game-deciding turnover.
“That fumble was a big play for our team. (Gardner) had the ball in the wrong hand and I was fortunate to be there to make a play,” Hitchens said.
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