Photo courtesy of Michigan Athletics
NCAA FOOTBALL BOWLS PAGE
NEW ORLEANS, La.
(Sports Network) - Michigan benefited from a replay overturn in overtime and survived Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl, 23-20, on Brendan Gibbons's 37-yard field goal.
The 17th-ranked Hokies (11-3) sent the game to overtime on Justin Myer's 25- yard field goal on the last snap of regulation, and appeared to take the lead in the extra session when Danny Coale made a diving one-handed catch in the end zone on 3rd-and-5 from the 20-yard line.
But replay overturned Coale's catch along the sideline, and Myer, thrust into the fire after Virginia Tech suspended two other kickers, was wide right on a 37-yard attempt.
The 13th-ranked Wolverines (11-2) played conservative during their possession, and Gibbons split the uprights to give Michigan its first BCS victory since the 2000 Orange Bowl despite being outgained 377-184.
Denard Robinson threw two touchdown passes to Junior Hemingway in the win, though the dynamic quarterback completed just 9-of-21 throws for 117 yards and an interception and was held to 13 yards on the ground.
Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas tossed for 214 yards and an interception on 19- of-28 throws and added 53 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Coale finished with eight receptions for 117 yards, but will be remembered for a catch the officials reversed.
Trailing 17-9, Virginia Tech embarked on a 16-play, 61-yard trek that consumed 7 1/2 minutes and ended with Thomas' one-yard plunge over the goal line. Marcus Davis came down with a jump ball over the middle for a two-point conversion, tying the game with 10:22 on the clock.
Both teams failed to move the chains on their next drives, but Michigan sniffed out a fake punt attempt to take over at the Virginia Tech 45-yard line with 7:21 remaining.
A pair of first downs moved the ball into field goal range, and Gibbons got enough behind a 39-yard kick.
The Hokies took over at their own nine with four minutes remaining, and five Thomas completions covered 76 yards to reach the Michigan 8. But a false start penalty on 3rd-and-2 pushed the ball back, and Jarrett Boykin was stopped two yards short of a first down after catching a pass over the middle.
With five seconds left, Virginia Tech called a timeout, and Myer was true from 23 yards out to send the game to overtime.
Two short runs netted five yards before Coale ran a corner route towards the left pylon. Thomas led his receiver a little too far, though Coale appeared to get his left elbow down in bounds while bringing in the ball with one hand.
Officials saw otherwise on the replay, and the battle of BCS at-large teams went Michigan's way after Gibbons's kick.
Myer accounted for the only points in the first 29 minutes, making a 37-yarder midway through the first quarter and tacking on a 43-yard kick in the opening minute of the second.
Michigan got a spark when Thomas was stuffed on 4th-and-1 at the Wolverines' four-yard line with 6:51 remaining in the half, then had its next drive extended on a roughing the kicker penalty.
The Wolverines crossed midfield for the first time when Fitzgerald Toussaint caught a 14-yard pass to reach the Virginia Tech 38-yard line. Robinson was sacked for a seven-yard loss on the next snap, then was stopped for no gain.
Robinson was again pressured on third down, but bought enough time to lob a prayer deep down the right sideline. Eddie Whitley was in position for an interception but mistimed his jump. The result was Hemingway hauling in the pass and going in untouched for a 45-yard TD with 49 seconds on the clock.
Virginia Tech, known for its terrific special teams, turned it over on the ensuing kickoff as Tony Gregory lost a fumble at his own 26-yard line. Michigan faked a field goal on fourth down seconds later, and caught a break when offensive lineman Jareth Glanda caught a tipped pass to move the chains after two Virginia Tech defenders collided going after the interception.
Vincent Smith was knocked out of bounds at the one-yard line following a seven-yard reception, bringing out Gibbons for a 24-yard field goal and a 10-6 halftime lead.
Frank Clark picked off a Thomas screen pass early in the third quarter, and Michigan took over at the Hokies' 35. A defensive pass interference penalty negated an interception two plays later, and on the next play, Hemingway got one foot inbounds for an 18-yard catch in the back of the end zone.
Myer cut the deficit to 17-9 with a 36-yard field goal with 4:48 remaining in the third quarter.