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Wildcats blow late lead in OT loss at Michigan

Northwestern quarterback KaColter (2) pitches ball towards running back during first quarter an NCAA college football game against Michigan Saturday

Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter (2) pitches the ball towards a running back during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Michigan, Saturday, November 10, 2012.

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Updated: November 10, 2012 6:45PM

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Northwestern mixed it up Saturday, triggering the self-destruct button at Michigan Stadium late in the third quarter.

But the Wildcats changed the script, adding more drama than usual, although the ending was all too familiar.

The Wildcats rebounded, holding a 31-28 lead with just 18 seconds remaining, but they allowed a 53-yard catch to Wolverines receiver Roy Roundtree, setting up a 26-yard field goal, then scored a touchdown in overtime to win 38-31.

The game looked so promising for the Wildcats.

Extending its 14-10 halftime lead with 10 points to open the third, the Wildcats had the Wolverines in an unenviable position, facing a 3rd and 17 from their own 20-yard line. But Wolverines backup quarterback Devin Gardner – filling in for Denard Robinson –launched a deep pass for receiver Jeremy Gallon, who had a step on backup cornerback Demetrius Duggar. With starter Nick VanHoose sidelined with an injury, Duggar had been picked on by the Wolverines several times on Saturday, and he obliged on that critical play with a pass interference.

Then, on the next play, Duggar was beaten for a 42-yard gain, which set-up a 28-yard touchdown by running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who broke three tackles. Michigan took a 28-24 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the Wildcats pieced together one of its most impressive drives, one that showcased its depth at quarterback.

Colter was injured after a first-down run, and backup Trevor Siemian stepped in and didn’t miss a beat, completing a 21-yard pass to receiver Demetrius Fields then a 15-yard touchdown to receiver Tony Jones.

The Wildcats led 31-28 with less than five minutes left.

Duggar even redeemed himself with an interception on the ensuing drive.

The drama continued, as the Wildcats faced a 4th and 1 from Michigan’s 41-yard line. Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald had his team go for it, and Colter took the snap out of the shotgun and barreled his body toward the line of scrimmage. He was ruled down close to the 40-yard line, and the play was ruled a first down – by less than an inch. After a review, the play was upheld, and the Wildcats ran off precious seconds off the clock, punting the ball four plays later to give the Wolverines the ball with just 18 seconds left.

But after a terrible punt by Brandon Williams, Gardner got the ball with 18 seconds left and he lofted a pass as far as he could. Cornerback Daniel Jones tipped the ball but Roundtree adjusted and made the improbable catch.

In overtime, Michigan got the ball first, and the key play was a short pass to Roundtree. What should have been a five-yard catch turned into 17 yards because Duggar missed the tackle.

From the one-yard line, Gardner faked the hand-off, slipped a diving tackler and trotted comfortably into the end zone.

The Wildcats, though, couldn’t get close to the end zone, with their fourth-down run stuffed at the 17-yard line.

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