SEATTLE Prior to Michigan”s game against Washington on Saturday, fans speculated about which player would be the difference-maker in the game.
Perhaps it would be Michigan senior wide receiver Marquise Walker, some thought. Or, maybe Washington senior defensive tackle Larry Tripplett would come up with some huge sacks.
Others might have expected a sophomore running back either Michigan”s Chris Perry or Washington”s Rich Alexis to have a breakout game on national television.
So, at the conclusion of Washington”s 23-18 victory, fans of both teams had to be asking the same question: “Who are Omare Lowe and Roc Alexander, and where did they come from?”
In a statement game for two teams with big aspirations for 2001, the loudest words were spoken by a pair of Washington cornerbacks Lowe and Alexander.
Although the game was a tight defensive struggle through the first half, it started to look like Michigan was gaining the upper hand as the third quarter wore on.
The Wolverines” big offensive line ground out yardage and ate up time against “The Dawgs,” as the Huskies” defenders like to call themselves. The dominance continued into the fourth quarter, as Michigan which was holding a 12-6 lead steadily drove downfield for another score.
But, when Michigan kicker Hayden Epstein lined up a 33-yard field goal, lightning struck in the form of Lowe. The senior raced untouched around the right end and blocked Epstein”s kick.
In a magnificent twist of fate, the ball bounced right into the hands of a streaking Alexander, who can run a 4.2 40-yard dash and is Washington”s fastest player. As a stunned Michigan bench looked on, the sophomore speedster raced 77 yards down the right sideline, and Husky Stadium exploded.
“It was very big for me,” Alexander said. “This is the first touchdown I have ever scored in a game. I was happy and it was fun I am just glad that I could go out there and do my thing.”
If Alexander was merely happy, his teammates were downright ecstatic. Had Michigan kicked the field goal, the Wolverines would have gone up by nine points with about nine minutes left in the game.
Washington”s offense aside from a few brilliant plays by freshman wide receiver Reggie Williams was nonexistent, and the Husky Stadium crowd could sense the game slipping away. Alexander”s dramatic runback changed everything.
“Man, I was so happy, but he was going so fast and so far, I was like “I can”t chase you down, Roc. I”ll wait “til you come to the sideline,”” Tripplett said with a laugh. “Yeah, I was excited. It was awesome.”
As if things couldn”t get any better for the Huskies, they did just 51 seconds later when Navarre tossed his second interception of the day. His first interception pulled in by Alexander killed a Michigan drive at the Huskies” ten-yard line. Navarre”s second interception killed Michigan”s chances of winning the game.
Facing second-and-seven from his own 23-yard line, Navarre fired a screen pass to Perry. But, the ball bounced off Perry”s fingers and into the hands of Lowe, who danced 21 yards into the end zone for a 20-12 Washington lead.
“I knew it was coming,” Lowe said in reference to the screen pass. “I saw the guy coming out at me, and we”re supposed to stay over the top of it. I actually did the wrong thing, kind of followed it, and it tipped off his hands and went right into my hands, and it was just a short little dash to the end zone.”
The irony for the Wolverines was that on a day where they throttled Washington”s biggest weapons Tripplett, Alexis and tight end Jerramy Stevens two unsung Dawgs delivered the biggest blows and propelled Washington to a come-from-behind win.
“I had chills going through my body, the crowd and everything, it was great,” Lowe said. “It kind of reminded me of high school.”