Michigan Football's Greatest Comebacks Countdown: 5. Washington Huskies (2002)

Michigan Football's Greatest Comebacks Countdown: 5. Washington Huskies (2002)

Football

Michigan Football's Greatest Comebacks Countdown: 5. Washington Huskies (2002)


No. 5 in our Michigan’s greatest comebacks series continues with a big time PAC-10 foe coming to Ann Arbor for the 2002 season opener.


Michigan Football’s Greatest Comebacks Countdown: 5. Washington Huskies (2002)

A young kicker struggles, finds redemption and becomes a hero.

Kicker Phil Brabbs was having a bad, no good day, missing his first two field goal attempts. But with his team standing behind him, he goes down on the good side of Michigan football history.

5. 13 Michigan vs. 11 Washington (2002)

  • Final score: 
  • 2002 record: 10-3 Finished: AP – 9th, Coaches – 9th
  • Why it’s important: Season opener, ranked opponent

Michigan opened up the game in front of the friendly home crowd, with junior running back Chris Perry breaking out for a 57 yard-run turned touchdown to put the Wolverines up 7-0 after just two plays on their first offensive possession.

It looked like the Wolverines were going to roll, getting the ball back in quick succession after the Huskies fumbled, giving Michigan the ball deep in Washington territory. But quarterback John Navarre couldn’t connect with his receivers, missing Ron Bellamy and freshman Braylon Edwards, before hitting Tyrece Butler. The drive stalled, putting the score on the foot of kicker Phil Brabbs, who couldn’t convert the 36 yard field goal.

The teams traded punts for the duration of the 1st quarter, but it would be Michigan that would strike next. At the start of the 2nd quarter, Navarre hit FB B.J. Askew with a throwback screen for 25 before Edwards burst onto the scene, getting the ball in stride on a post route to put the Wolverines up 14-0.

Washington would try to answer, but quarterback Cody Pickett would be picked off by Markus Curry, deep into Michigan territory. However, Michigan did nothing with the opportunity, punting the ball away, giving the Huskies another chance to close in. And that they did, sustaining a 10-play drive, and scoring six on a throw to TE Kevin Ware. However, the extra point attempt saw a high snap and John Anderson missed the kick — something of a theme for the day.

But Michigan would make a quick mistake: Chris Perry fumbled on his second rush of the next drive, giving Washington the ball back on the Wolverines 25. The Huskies capitalized this time, with Pickett handing off to Rich Alexis, who counters and and brings the score within one point.

Minutes later, with 5:14 remaining in the 2nd quarter, Washington, again, found itself deep in Michigan territory with a chance to score. However, John Anderson’s kick was blocked by Shantee Orr, giving Michigan another chance to hang on. However, getting the ball back with 0:45, despite efforts by Askew, Edwards and Butler to get the Wolverines back into field goal territory, kicker Phil Brabbs missed the kick — again — this time from 42 yards.

Michigan would take a 14-13 lead into halftime.

After the Wolverines failed to convert their first possession of the second hafl into points, Washington wouldn’t do the same. Pickett pump faked and threw into double coverage, but Charles Frederick, slightly behind the two Wolverines, fought for the ball and turned up-field for the 53 yard score. Washington had its first lead of the game, 20-14.

The maize and blue would answer, though. Nine plays later, on the backs of a 22 yard Butler reception and 30 yard play action dump-off to Askew, Michigan found itself back in the lead, with Chris Perry punching it in from 2 yards out. 21-20. A few drives later, near the end of the 3rd quarter, Huskies kicker John Anderson finally got his stuff together, putting one through the uprights from 30 yards, as Washington reclaimed the lead.

Michigan would answer. Long passes to Ron Bellamy and Calvin Bell set up a series of rushes by Chris Perry, who found the endzone, putting Michigan up 28-23.

But Huskies tailback Rich Alexis was just getting going. On the next drive, he carried the ball six times, including a 59 yard run. His final run of 1 yard put Washington back up top 29-28. They attempted to go for two, but failed — and Michigan was still in striking distance with 8:24 remaining.

The Wolverines got the ball back at their own 45 with 5:29 remaining, and put themselves in a position to retake the lead. Behind the efforts of Edwards, Butler and Chris Perry, Michigan drove to the Washington 10 yard line before stalling out. After Brabbs’ two misses, Lloyd Carr opted to try Troy Nienberg, but he also missed, from 27 yards out.

But Michigan had all three timeouts, so Washington couldn’t ice it, despite getting the ball with only 1:24 remaining.

The Wolverines would get the ball back at midfield and calamity nearly happened. Navarre completed a pass to Braylon Edwards on 4th down. He looked down, as if it were incomplete, as it looked to be in and out of his hands. However, the play wasn’t whistled dead, and elder receiver Tyrece Butler jumped on it, keeping the drive — and game — alive.

Navarre missed his next two targets, but Washington made a big mistake, as the Huskies had twelve players in on the play, which gave the Wolverines an extra 15 yards with only 0:06 remaining.

Despite his earlier misses, Carr went back with his original kicker, Phil Brabbs, who would go on to attempt a 44 yarder. The ball was placed on the left hashmark, and Brabbs would send it the distance, splitting the uprights perfectly, securing a Michigan victory over a veritable PAC-10 foe.

Leaders in Blue

Passing

John Navarre – 22/38, 268 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing

Chris Perry – 23 carries, 123 yards, 3 TD

Receiving

Tyrece Butler – 6 rec., 85 yards

Braylon Edwards – 5 rec., 80 yards, 1 TD

B.J. Askew – 7 rec., 50 yards

Defense

Victor Hobson – 9 tackles, 1 PBU

Cato June – 6 tackles – 2 TFL

Markus Curry – 6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 INT

Marlin Jackson – 5 tackles, 1 TFL, 6 PBU

Special Teams

Philip Brabbs – 1/3 FGA, long: 44 yards.

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