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Wolverines kicker gets second chance and puts away Spartans

October 3, 2005
The Michigan football team celebrates at midfield after its 34-31 overtime victory over the Spartans.

After Garrett Rivas let a 27-yard field goal sail wide right that would have given the Wolverines a late fourth-quarter lead, head coach Lloyd Carr asked him what he did.

"He said, 'I just pushed it,' Carr said. "I said, 'Well, make one in overtime.' And like a good Michigan player, he did what his coach told him."

Rivas' 35-yarder in the extra session lifted the unranked Wolverines 34-31 against the No. 11 Spartans on Saturday. MSU, with first possession after regulation, missed on its own field-goal attempt.

Teammates mobbed Rivas on the field afterwards, the U-M Marching Band broke out in song and all the Spartans could do was trudge back to the locker room.

It was Rivas' third game-winning kick - which have all come on the road.

"Every week, I fantasize about that moment. I want the game on my shoulders," Rivas said. "I want that every week. It's like a dream. Especially when you come to Michigan State - these conference games mean so much. It's great when it comes down to overtime and you get a chance on a stage like this."

Tailback Michael Hart's return provided the boost the Wolverines didn't have in their loss against Wisconsin the week before. He missed the two-plus previous games because of a hamstring injury.

In his return, Hart rushed 36 times for 218 yards and one touchdown. It was the third straight year a U-M rusher got more than 200 yards on the ground. Hart had 224 last season and Chris Perry had 219 the year before.

Hart said after the game he wasn't surprised at the amount of carries he had during the game, but the coaches asked him if he was OK following every play.

"I wasn't going to miss this game for anything," Hart said. "I didn't care how hurt I was. We came to win."

After struggling most of the season, quarterback Chad Henne completed 26-of-35 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns, which all came in the first half. He threw one interception and was sacked twice.

"Against Wisconsin, I had a lot of physical mistakes, it wasn't so much the mental mistakes," Henne said. "We got that fixed last Sunday and Monday and executed (Saturday)."

U-M avoided the letdown of a record under .500 - uncharacteristic of a Wolverines team. Carr credited his team for coming into a tough arena and "playing their hearts out."

"Confidence is a funny thing," Carr said. "Just because you're talented doesn't mean they have confidence. It comes and goes."

"It was a hard-hitting, exciting and great football game," Carr said. "It would have been a lot harder to say that had we lost, but I think it's the truth.

"? For that, I will never forget this day."

Injury updates

Receiver and kick returner Steve Breaston did not make the trip to East Lansing because of an injury against Wisconsin, Carr said.

Linebacker Scott McClintock was unable to play, Carr said, because of back problems that have bothered him throughout his entire career.

Carr also said he "can't tell" why defensive end Rondell Biggs will be out "for awhile."

Career markers

Receiver Jason Avant's 10 receptions for 96 yards and one touchdown was a career high. In the first half alone, Avant caught seven passes for 74 yards and one touchdown. He caught a 2-yard pass from Henne on the Wolverines' first drive of the game to go up 7-0.

Receiver Mario Manningham matched a season-high in catches with four, for 66 yards. In the past two games, the freshman has had eight receptions for 172 yards.


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