Last-Second Smoker Pass Spells Defeat For No. 6 Michigan
Nov 3, 2001
EAST LANSING, Mich. - T.J. Duckett had a 230-yard day against No. 6 Michigan: The final 2 were all that mattered.
Jeff Smoker, scrambling and off-balance, lobbed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Duckett on the last play of the game as Michigan State beat Michigan 26-24 on Saturday, likely ending the Wolverines chances of playing in the Rose Bowl for the national championship.
Duckett, who ran for 211 yards and added 19 receiving yards, found an opening in a crowded end zone, just beyond a couple leaping Wolverines. And Smoker spotted him in the nick of time.
"I was jumping up and down in the end zone, waving my arms," Duckett said. "It's a big win for our program."
After the catch, Duckett was swarmed in the end zone by his celebrating teammates in front of a cheering student section.
There was no extra point attempt, and officials did not immediately explain why.
There were seven lead changes between the Spartans (5-2, 3-2 Big Ten) and Wolverines (6-2, 4-1) and neither team led by more than seven points.
Michigan State, with one time out left, started the winning drive at Michigan's 43 with 2:09 left.
On a fourth-and-16 from the 50, an incomplete pass turned into a first down for Michigan State when cornerback Jeremy LeSueur was called for a personal foul for making contact with receiver Charles Rogers' face mask.
LeSueur made a touchdown-saving breakup on the next play and Smoker threw an 8-yard pass to Duckett on fourth-and-4. Smoker spiked the ball with 17 seconds left, scrambled for two yards to Michigan's 1 and spiked the ball again with a second left to set up the game-winning pass.
When Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was asked about the officials ruling that a second should remain on the clock, he wouldn't answer it directly.
"Our players deserve better," Carr said. "I'm sure the Big Ten will do the right thing, but that won't change the outcome."
Marquise Walker caught nine passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns for Michigan, with all but 44 yards coming in second quarter. John Navarre was 14-of-27 for 195 yards and three touchdowns. He had two interceptions - on consecutive possessions in the third and fourth quarters.
Smoker was 15-of-35 for 183 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. Rogers caught six passes for 86 yards and drew three pass interference penalties along with the personal foul on the game-winning drive.
"Those are as good as catches because they gave us great field position," Rogers said. "I came to Michigan State to win games like this. I wanted to be a part of something new. They used to win these games, but things are going to change."
Michigan set a school record with 12 sacks, led by Shantee Orr's five sacks, which tied a school record.
The Wolverines looked as if they might survive their visit to East Lansing. Holding a 20-17 lead with six minutes left, Smoker fumbled the snap and Grant Bowman recovered the ball at the Spartans' 38.
Calvin Bell ran 21 yards on a reverse and Navarre threw a 20-yard TD pass to backup quarterback Jermaine Gonzales on a third-and-13 with 4:44 left.
"We felt like we had it won, but it doesn't matter what the score is until there's zeroes on the clock," Michigan's Dave Petruziello said.
Michigan State was the first to score, thanks to a fake punt.
On a fourth-and-11 at Michigan's 31, punter Craig Jarrett threw a pass to Rogers, who drew his first of three pass interference penalties, all in the first half.
Smoker threw a TD pass to Rogers, inches over cornerback Marlin Jackson on a third-and-11 at the 17. Michigan's Hayden Epstein kicked a school-record 57-yard field goal on the ensuing possession to make it 7-3.
The Wolverines took a 10-7 lead on Walker's first of two touchdowns early in the second quarter on a third-and-5 at the 14.
On the next possession, Michigan State went ahead 14-10 on Duckett's 2-yard run. Rogers drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone on a third-and-4 from the 12, a play before the TD.
Michigan responded with an 80-yard drive capped by Walker's 32-yard touchdown reception, which gave the Wolverines their 17-14 halftime lead.
By LARRY LAGE
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