Sunday, January 02, 2000

Orange Bowl: Michigan 35, Alabama 34




BY STEVEN WINE
AP Sports Writer

        MIAMI — Alabama's Ryan Pflugner missed an extra-point attempt in overtime to give Michigan a 35-34 victory in the Orange Bowl Saturday night.

        “Everyone is going to blame me,” said Pflugner, a senior. “I missed the last kick. It came down to an extra point I should have made. But it's a team game. Everyone probably could have done something to make it better.”

        Michigan's Tom Brady threw for 369 yards and four touchdowns, including three to David Terrell, and the Wolverines twice overcame 14-point deficits.

        After Michigan's Shawn Thompson caught a 25-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime, Alabama scored on Andrew Zow's 21-yard pass to Antonio Carter. But Pflugner's extra-point attempt was just wide to the right.

        “This is the greatest ending to a game ever,” Michigan linebacker Ian Gold said.

        “It was a great football game,” coach Lloyd Carr said. “It was a shame somebody had to lose. As much I enjoy winning, I hate to see it end the way it did, with a missed extra point.”

        The Wolverines won even though they lost a fumble at the Alabama 1 in the fourth quarter and had a 36-yard field goal attempt blocked to force the overtime.

        Northern Kentucky native Shaun Alexander, the Southeastern Conference player of the year, rushed for 161 yards and three touchdowns in his final game for Alabama. His scores came on runs of 5, 6 and 50 yards, and teammate Freddie Milons scored on a 62-yard punt return.

        The eighth-ranked Wolverines (10-2) managed just one first down in the opening 28 minutes but completed their third consecutive 10-win season.

        “Everybody said we weren't good enough, but we showed them,” said Terrell, who caught 10 passes for 150 yards.

        The fifth-ranked Crimson Tide (10-3) lost in their 50th bowl game, an NCAA record.

        “It hurts,” Milons said. “It really, really hurts, especially when you've played as hard as you can.”

        The Wolverines' first six possessions produced just one first down, which came on a 5-yard gain on a fake punt. The offense finally mustered a first down with 1:18 left in the opening half, then scored two plays later on a 27-yard pass from Brady to Terrell.

        The Wolverines erased deficits of 14-0 and 28-14 thanks to Terrell, who tied Orange Bowl and Michigan bowl records with three touchdown receptions.

        Brady led Michigan to three touchdowns in a 12-minute span in the third quarter.

        The comeback wasn't the first by the Wolverines, who rallied from fourth-quarter deficits to win three times during the regular season.

        “They've done that all year long,” Carr said. “I'll be glad to get rid of them; I don't have much heart left.”

        Phillip Weeks blocked a field-goal attempt by Hayden Epstein as time ran out in the fourth quarter, forcing the overtime. Earlier in the period, Anthony Thomas lost a fumble at the Alabama 1.

        “Everything is not rose petals when it's a street fight,” Terrell said.

        Attendance based on tickets sold was 70,461, but the actual crowd totaled only about 50,000. The no-shows missed a game filled with penalties and punts but also plenty of big plays and swings in momentum.

        Alexander turned a third-and-1 run into a 50-yard touchdown, breaking three tackles to give Alabama a 21-14 lead in the third quarter. Less than three minutes later, Milons caught a 51-yard punt, weaved across the field and scored untouched to make it 28-14.

        The Wolverines made the score 14-all on their first series of the second half. Terrell caught a short pass from Brady, eluded cornerback Milo Lewis and sprinted the end zone, completing a 57-yard play.

        Terrell beat Lewis again in the third quarter for a 20-yard score.

        Alabama picked up only one first down in the opening quarter, but a 32-yard run by Alexander got the Tide rolling. The play started a 76-yard drive that ended with Alexander's 5-yard touchdown run.

        Three minutes later, Alabama scored again. Milons' 23-punt return and a late-hit penalty gave the Tide the ball at the Michigan 31, and Alexander's 6-yard touchdown run made the score 14-0.

Alexander stars in Alabama loss


Michigan           0  7 21  0  7  35 
Alabama            0 14 14  0  6  34  

Alabama-Alexander 5 run (Pflugner kick) Alabama-Alexander 6 run (Pflugner kick) Michigan-Terrell 27 pass from T Brady (Epstein kick) Michigan-Terrell 57 pass from T Brady (Epstein kick) Alabama-Alexander 50 run (Pflugner kick) Alabama-Milons 62 punt return (Pflugner kick) Michigan-Terrell 20 pass from T Brady (Epstein kick) Michigan-A Thomas 3 run (Epstein kick) Michigan-S Thompson 25 pass from T Brady (Epstein kick) Alabama-A Carter 21 pass from Zow (kick failed)

Michigan Alabama First downs 18 12 Rushed-yards 23-37 37-184 Passing yards 369 121 Sacked-yards lost 2-15 1-12 Return yards 20 108 Passes 35-47-0 13-20-0 Punts 8-43.4 9-34.4 Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0 Penalties-yards 10-115 18-132 Time of possession 32:08 27:52

Individual Statistics RUSHING: Michigan-A Thomas 18-40, D Henson 1-8, Gold 1-5, T Brady 3-minus 16. Alabama-Alexander 25-161, Watts 4-15, Milons 2-11, Bohanon 1-4, Mcclintock 3-3, Zow 2-minus 10.

PASSING: Michigan-T Brady 34-46-0-369, D Henson 1-1-0-0. Alabama-Zow 7-14-0-86, Watts 6-6-0-35.

RECEIVING: Michigan-Terrell 10-150, Shea 7-50, Walker 6-65, A Thomas 4-2, S Thompson 3-47, Knight 3-28, Joppru 1-24, D Johnson 1-3. Alabama-C Carter 4-38, Milons 4-15, Alexander 2-21, Bowens 1-22, T Jones 1-16, Buchanan 1-9.

Att: 70,461



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