- Terra Molengraff/Daily
By Matt Slovin, Managing Editor
Published October 12, 2013
STATE COLLEGE — Despite setting a new school record, Saturday’s game at Penn State is one fifth-year senior kicker Brendan Gibbons would rather forget.
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After redshirt junior quarterback Devin Gardner connected with sophomore tight end Devin Funchess for a fourth-quarter touchdown to put Michigan up 10, Gibbons notched his 127th straight extra point — the longest streak of successful tries in program history.
From there, Gibbons struggled, looking at times like his 2010 self. That season, he made just 1-of-5 field goals and recorded one of his two career extra-point misses.
After Michigan ate about six minutes of game time late in the fourth quarter leading by seven, coach Brady Hoke had a decision to make about whether to kick a field goal to ice the game or punt and try and pin the Nittany Lions deep in their own territory. He opted for the conservative route, but junior Matt Wile’s punt rolled into the end zone for a touchback, allowing Penn State to start at its own 20-yard line, rather than with its backs against the wall. The punt netted just 15 yards.
“I did (consider a field goal), but if we could have pooched it down there or put them on the 20 instead of the 35, I liked those odds,” Hoke said.
With seven seconds left in regulation, Gibbons ended up attempting a 52-yard field goal, which would have tied his career long set last season at Nebraska. But the kick fell short, and the game headed into overtime.
After the game, Hoke said he considered Wile, who handles the team’s punting duties and is generally thought to have a stronger leg than Gibbons, for that kick. But Hoke ultimately chose Gibbons for the first potential game-winner after asking him before the game what distances he was comfortable being used from.
In overtime, the night soured very quickly for Gibbons, who had been extremely consistent in clutch situations the past couple of seasons.
Penn State kicker Sam Ficken missed a 40-yarder on the Nittany Lions’ first overtime possession, meaning the Wolverines needed points of any kind in order to escape Happy Valley with a win. But Gibbons’s attempt from the same distance was blocked, allowing the game to continue.
On the Michigan possession that immediately followed, Gibbons was successful from 25 yards out, showing he wasn’t going to let the pressure cripple him completely. The third overtime, however, is where the wheels completely fell off.
Penn State went on offense first, but lost possession when wide receiver Allen Robinson lost the handle of the football on an end around. Junior defensive end Frank Clark recovered, again setting the Wolverines up for a situation where any points would win the game.
Michigan ran three plays before trotting Gibbons out for yet another chance to play the role of hero — one that isn’t entirely unfamiliar to the man who kicked the game-winner in the 2012 Sugar Bowl. But Gibbons’s kick just barely sailed wide left.
The game continued, but the nightmare soon ended for Gibbons. He connected on a 40-yarded in the fourth overtime, but Penn State’s touchdown ended the game.
INJURY UPDATE: Michigan fifth-year senior offensive tackle Taylor Lewan left Saturday’s game late in the second quarter.
Though Hoke did not disclose exactly what the injury was, he did say, “He should be all right.”
After medical personnel came to assist Lewan, who was sprawled out on the grass, it appeared he could walk off the field on his own power. But a noticeable limp began to hurt his progress, and the trainers needed to help him. As he neared the sideline, Lewan began to stumble.
He ran back out for one more snap, but that would be all he would play for the rest of the night.
To compensate, Michigan moved senior Michael Schofield to Lewan’s left tackle position and inserted redshirt freshman Erik Magnuson on the right side of the already-inexperienced offensive line.
NOTABLE QUOTABLE: Hoke, after the game, referring to the offensive line: “It wasn’t good enough, there’s no question. We’d better take a hard look at it.”