Michigan was knee-deep in another annoyingly close contest against Indiana.
Down 28-17 with just under seven minutes left, the Hoosiers had done everything they could to stick with the Wolverines. Their offensive line paved the way for Stevie Scott’s 139 yards on 30 totes. The Crimson defense had dug deep six times in the red zone, allowing five field goals.
During one, linebacker Dameon Willis kicked the ball out of the referee’s hands before he could set the ball. From legitimate to illegal, Tom Allen’s team was trying everything.
Don Brown’s defense found itself on its heels for the first time since mid-September against Southern Methodist. Peyton Ramsey guided Indiana to third-and-one from the Michigan 19, poised draw within three with a touchdown and two-point conversion.
The only problem? Josh Metellus slammed the door to force a field goal of his own.
First, the play itself was Metellus and Rashan Gary deking potential blockers. Gary induces an early pitch by penetrating deep into the backfield — well before pulling guard Simon Stepaniak can try a cheap shot.
Next, Metellus toasts an attempted stock block from slot receiver Luke Timian. He blasts Scott almost immediately upon catching the pitch for a four-yard loss.
Logan Justus settled for a 36-yard field goal to make it 28-20.
This changed the math for the final minutes. If the Hoosiers had eventually scored a touchdown and converted the two-pointer, all they would’ve just needed a stop and another three-pointer to reach overtime. With limited time to drive down the field, last-minute kicks are easier to accomplish than crossing the goal line.
Seeing as seven of the last eight drives for Michigan yielded at least 47 yards, Michigan was surely going to bleed enough clock to prevent a game-tying touchdown drive.
Not only did the running game milk four minutes after 36 yards, Jake Moody booted his sixth field goal to stretch the lead to double-digits with just 2:37 remaining. Down 31-20 looking down the barrel of a Don Brown defense, Tom Allen and Mike Debord’s goose was cooked.
Without Metellus’ stuff, the late-game air would’ve been tense; the emotions tightly wound. Instead, he helped keep a feisty foe stay at arm’s length.