WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Michigan is proving that sometimes experience isn't all it's cracked up to be.
Freshman Michael Hart rushed for 206 yards and Garrett Rivas hit a 35-yard field goal with 2:45 to go to lift the 13th-ranked Wolverines to a 16-14
win over No. 12 Purdue on Saturday.
Hart broke Ricky Powers' record for rushing yards by a Michigan freshman and also caught a touchdown pass from fellow freshman Chad Henne to help the
Wolverines (7-1, 5-0 Big Ten) keep pace with No. 6 Wisconsin atop the conference.
"Michael Hart certainly has done his share," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "He's a special kid. He has a durability that is just amazing for a kid
who just graduated from high school a few months ago."
Michigan's talented teens, Hart and Henne, outplayed Purdue's star seniors, Kyle Orton and Taylor Stubblefield.
Orton was 14-for-30 for 213 yards, a touchdown and an interception and Stubblefield had just one catch for 10 yards.
The scene was all too familiar for Purdue (5-2, 2-2), which again had a costly fumble late to lose its second game in a row after starting the season
with five straight wins for the first time since 1945.
After Rivas' field goal, Orton hit Dorien Bryant on a crossing pattern that moved the Boilermakers into Michigan territory.
But Michigan defensive back Markus Curry sent Bryant flying with a low hit and Ernest Shazor hit him high, forcing a fumble that Leon Hall recovered
to seal the win. The play was reviewed by replay officials and stood as called.
"It hurts, obviously," Bryant said. "Coaches and guys on the team preach that a football game never comes down to one play, but when something like
that happens, you feel like it's all on your shoulders."
Last week against Wisconsin, Purdue led 17-13 in the fourth, but Orton fumbled on a similar high-low hit and Scott Starks returned it 40 yards for the
"This was a very tough football game and now we've had two heartbreakers," Orton said. "There's not much to say."
Rivas was shaky all day, missing a 38-yarder in the third and also having a 32-yarder blocked by Bobby Iwuchukwu in the fourth. The sophomore said
Carr asked him if he was ready for another shot.
"I told him that he can always count on me," Rivas said. "I don't think he was losing faith, he was just making sure I was still on point."
He was, calmly drilling the biggest kick of the day to give the Wolverines their sixth straight win, and fourth in a row over Purdue.
While Rivas was the hero, Hart was the workhorse. A week after going for 234 yards against Illinois, Hart used his speed and power on 33 carries to
tear up Purdue's run defense.
Henne was solid, throwing for 190 yards and a touchdown, but wisely leaned on Hart.
Orton continued to struggle against Michigan and can probably forget about winning the Heisman Trophy.
Michigan's defensive backs, which have dominated the Purdue receivers in recent years, gave Orton little breathing room on Saturday, sacking him three
times and shutting down Stubblefield, the Big Ten's career leading receiver.
"Obviously, all of those corners and the secondary did a great job because we had some great hits and we tackled well," Carr said.
Orton said he thought the Wolverines were getting away with holding.
"Our offense is based on timing and throwing the ball and running clean routes and if you're getting held, if you're getting interfered with, just
make the obvious calls," Orton said.
But when they did give Purdue a crease, Orton made them pay.
Running back Brandon Jones blew past linebacker Scott McClintock to haul in a 63-yard TD pass to give Purdue a 14-10 lead early in the third.
Michigan then rode Hart right back into the game.
Hart had dazzling runs of 28 and 33 yards to set up a 25-yard field goal by Rivas to make the score 14-13.
He then rushed for 28 yards on Michigan's game-winning drive.
"You see him just breaking off tackles; you don't think he's going to get any yards and then he just breaks it off for 40 yards," said Henne, who
hooked up with Hart for a 25-yard TD in the first quarter. "He's just a great back."
The Boilermakers looked to be rolling early when they took their opening possession 65 yards for a touchdown.
Surprisingly, Purdue relied mainly on the ground game during the drive, getting 32 yards and a touchdown from Jerod Void against a Michigan defense
that came into the game leading the Big Ten and fourth nationally in run defense.
But Void took a pitch left and easily scored on a 1-yard run to put Purdue up 7-0.
From there on out, it was tough going for the Boilermakers. Void managed just 16 yards the rest of the game, and Purdue managed just 263 yards of
offense, over 200 short of their average.
"We're going to be tested now," Orton said. "I really thought after a tough loss last week we came back and fought hard."