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Big House of horrors for Michigan

No. 5 Wolverines have a potential winning field goal blocked as time expires and Appalachian State pulls off a stunning 34-32 upset in front of 110,000.

September 02, 2007|From the Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Chances are, most of the 110,000 fans at the Big House had no idea exactly where Appalachian State is located.

By the time they saw a blocked field goal in the final seconds, this much was certain: The little Mountaineers pulled off one of the greatest upsets in college football history.

Appalachian State 34, No. 5 Michigan 32.

The team from Boone, N.C., took the lead with 26 seconds left when Julian Rauch kicked a 24-yard field goal. Corey Lynch blocked a 37-yard try on the final play, and the Mountaineers sealed a jaw-dropping upset that might have no equal.

No Division I-AA team had beaten a team ranked in the Associated Press poll from 1989 to 2006, and it's unlikely that it had ever happened before.

"It was David versus Goliath," Appalachian State receiver Dexter Jackson said.

Michigan's three stars on offense and its coach came back this season, putting the NFL and retirement on hold, with high hopes.

Big Ten title. National championship. Looks as if it might be time for Plan B.

Mike Hart, Chad Henne and Jake Long never envisioned stumbling this early in what was a promising year.

Neither did Coach Lloyd Carr, who looked ashen as the upset unfolded.

It didn't take long to notice the second-tier power belonged on the same field because it made up for a slight size disadvantage with superior speed and, perhaps, more passion.

The two-time defending champions from former Division I-AA were ahead of the nation's winningest program, 28-14, late in the second quarter, before their storybook afternoon seemed to unravel late in the fourth quarter.

Hart's 54-yard run with 4:36 left put the Wolverines ahead for the first time since early in the second quarter.

One snap after the go-ahead touchdown, Michigan's Brandent Englemon intercepted an errant pass, but the Wolverines couldn't capitalize and had their first of two field goals blocked.

Then Appalachian State drove 69 yards without a timeout in 1:11 to set up the go-ahead field goal.

"I've been dreaming about that kick every day," Rauch said.

Still, it wasn't over.

Henne threw a 46-yard pass to Mario Manningham, giving Michigan the ball at Appalachian State's 20 with six seconds left and putting the Wolverines in position to win it.

Lynch blocked the kick and returned 52 yards to the 18 as the final seconds ticked off. His teammates rushed across the field to pile on as the coaching staff and cheerleaders jumped with joy.

"We're still sort of shocked," Coach Jerry Moore said after being carried off the field by his players.

Appalachian State has won 15 straight games, longest streak in the nation. The Mountaineers are favored to win the Football Championship Subdivision, but they weren't expected to put up much of a fight.

"We were not a well-prepared football team," Carr said. "That is my job, and I take full responsibility."

The Mountaineers improved to 7-36-1 against top-tier teams since 1978, the previous six victories all over Wake Forest, and took home a $400,000 check from Michigan to boot.

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