Play of the Game: Hitched up a winner

Published: November 23 2013 | 3:44 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 11:57 pm in
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  • TIME: 2:12, fourth quarter
  • SCORE: Iowa 24-21
  • DOWN AND DISTANCE: Michigan faced second-and-12 at the Iowa 39
  • FORMATION AND PERSONNEL: Iowa — Base 4-3 defense. Michigan— Three receivers, a tight end, a running back and the quarterback in the shotgun.
  • WHAT HAPPENED: Michigan QB Devin Gardner rushed 8 yards to his left toward the Iowa 30-yard line. Iowa linebacker Anthony Hitchens hit Gardner, forced the fumble and recovered at the Iowa 31.
  • WHY IT WAS IMPORTANT: It gave Iowa possession of the ball with a three-point lead and 2:12 left in the game. Iowa ran out the clock to secure the win.
  • THE QUOTE 1: "I was going to get him down, but he had the ball out so that I was stripping him as he was going down; the ball happened to stay in bounds," Hitchens said. "I was going for the tackle, but at the last minute he had the ball just hanging out there so I stripped it."
  • THE QUOTE 2: "I think he was trying to decide if he wanted to get out of bounds or try to get a little more," Michigan Coach Brady Hoke said. "It was somewhere where, at the end of the day, he had the opportunity to get out of bounds, and I'd rather him get out of bounds."
  • THE QUOTE 3: "I fumbled to lose the game," Gardner said. "He made me fumble. There's not much else."
  • THE QUOTE 4: "The ball's going the other way so I'm running as fast as I can at that point," Iowa linebacker James Morris said. "I see the quarterback running out of bounds and I'm thinking, 'Oh, shoot, here we go again. But Anthony just kept hustling and (Gardner) had the ball in the wrong arm and made an opportunistic play and essentially sealed the deal for us."
  • THE ANALYSIS: Michigan ran a delayed draw, and Gardner followed running back Fitz Toussaint through a gap between the left tackle and left guard. Toussaint made intital contact with Hitchens at the second level, but Toussaint was shoved aside. Gardner darted up the field near the sideline instead of going out of bounds and held the ball in his inside arm. Hitchens blasted him from the right side and the ball nearly went out of bounds, but Hitchens recovered for Iowa.

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