With the Illinois Fighting Illini scoring 25 unanswered points against the Michigan Wolverines, Jim Harbaugh’s team needed momentum back on their side in a hurry in the waning minutes of the game.
The Wolverines had the ball in the red zone, and Harbaugh had a crucial decision to make. Harbaugh could have opted for a field goal to potentially give Michigan a six point lead, or he go for it on 4th down and keep the drive moving in hopes of scoring a touchdown.
Enter this week’s turning point.
Harbaugh opted to go for it on 4th and 2, and with quarterback Shea Patterson lined up out of the shotgun, he kept the ball and headed north. Patterson was able to move the chains.
“Defensive end was spiking. It was a hard slant,” Harbaugh said. “It enabled us to get the ball in Shea’s hands. Made a couple big plays for us, ran hard, protected the ball.”
Crucial 4th down— Due# (@JDue51) October 13, 2019
Shea digs deep and gets the first
Ruiz and Onwenu pull
Bredeson strong arms his guy (with assist by Mayfield)
Eubanks gets enough of his guy
Huge conversion pic.twitter.com/KhQWgKhz6T
“A touchdown would have beat us, so wanted to give our offense a chance to make a two-score game,” Harbaugh said. “Lost a game once like that in my past. I did kick the field goal.”
This time around Harbaugh’s decision paid off. Patterson’s conversion on 4th led to a Donovan Peoples-Jones touchdown reception two plays later to put Michigan up 35-25. Michigan would end up tacking on another score and won the game 42-25.
“This time we put the ball in Shea Patterson’s hands. He’s tenacious in those kinda situations and those kinda big moments. Felt really good he could pick it up for us,” Harbaugh said. “The offense was hungry to do it. Made the decision to go for it on that fourth down, and the guys came through.”