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Spartans Edged By Wolverines In OT

Oct. 1, 2005

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Mike Hart's return and Garrett Rivas' redemption gave Michigan a win it desperately needed.

Hart ran for 218 yards and a touchdown in his first game back from an injury, and Rivas made up for missing a field goal in the final minute of regulation by kicking a 35-yarder in overtime to give the Wolverines a 34-31 win over No. 11 Michigan State on Saturday.

"All I wanted was another chance," Rivas said. "Luckily, overtime went our way and we were able to get another shot."

John Goss narrowly missed a 37-yard field goal in overtime and didn't connect on a 23-yard attempt early in the fourth quarter that would have given the Spartans their only lead.

"I have no excuses for how I did," Goss said with watery eyes. "I feel bad for letting my teammates down."

Hart's return from a hamstring injury after missing two-plus games allowed the Wolverines (3-2, 1-1 Big ten) to avoid their worst start since 1967.

"I'll never forget this day," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.

Coach John L. Smith hopes the Spartans don't either.

"It hurts real bad, and it should hurt," Smith said. "I hope the players feel it and I hope they don't forget the feeling."

Drew Stanton was 20-of-30 for 282 yards with a TD pass and an interception for the Spartans (4-1, 1-1), who lost their fourth straight game in the rivalry.

"They just outplayed us," Stanton said. "They made fewer mistakes."

The Wolverines were ranked as high as third but losses to Notre Dame and Wisconsin dropped them out of the poll for the first time since 1998, snapping the nation's longest streak of 114-straight poll appearances.

The Spartans were in the Top 25 and Michigan was not - and Michigan State was the favorite - in the annual matchup for the first time since 1968, the year before Bo Schembechler began coaching the Wolverines.



"When Michigan State is ranked ahead of you and you're Michigan, it's not good. That's pressure in itself," Hart said. "We were 2-2. That's pressure within itself.

"We don't ever lose three games a year. If we lost three, what would that make us look like? We knew it was a must-win."

Last year, Michigan State had a 27-10 lead against Michigan with 8:43 left before losing in triple overtime.

The Wolverines led by 14 twice in the first half on Saturday and were ahead 24-21 at halftime after both teams combined for 610 yards of offense.

After a flawless first half in which Michigan's Chad Henne threw three TD passes without a turnover, his interception led to a game-tying field goal early in the third quarter and his fumble midway through the fourth was returned 74 yards by defensive tackle Domata Peko for a TD, knotting the game at 31. Henne's fumble stood after a replay.

Rivas missed a 27-yard field goal to the right with 48 seconds left, but with no timeouts left, the Spartans couldn't get past midfield.

Henne was 26-of-35 for 256 yards. Jason Avant caught 10 passes for 96 yards and a TD.

Facing a crossroads, the Wolverines started and finished well.

"It was a great win," Hart said. "Everyone was doubting us."

Michigan went ahead 14-0 after its first two possessions on Avant's leaping, 2-yard catch in the corner of the end zone and Mario Manningham's 43-yard reception.

After two stalled drives and with momentum firmly on the Wolverines' side, Michigan State converted two third downs and made it 14-7 on Stanton's 4-yard run.

The Spartans were driving deep when a halfback pass by Jerramy Scott was intercepted at Michigan's 4 by Willis Barringer, whose fumble was recovered by the Wolverines on a play that stood after a replay.

Michigan State was called for roughing the kicker on the ensuing possession. The Wolverines decided to take the points off the scoreboard, and the move paid off when Henne threw a 5-yard pass to Brian Thompson for a 21-7 lead.

Jehuu Caulcrick's 1-yard run for the Spartans made it 21-14 midway through the second quarter and they tied the game on their next possession on Stanton's 61-yard pass to Kerry Reed.

Rivas' 20-yard field goal with 9 seconds left in the half put Michigan ahead 24-21.

The Wolverines were without receiver and kick returner Steve Breaston because of an undisclosed injury, but Hart's return more than made up for it.

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