Last home game bittersweet for seniors

David Sterrett

The comeback victory against Michigan in 2000 is one of the games many Wildcats will remember about their careers, but Saturday’s game against the Wolverines at Ryan Field was the final home game for 10 Northwestern seniors. The players’ pictures appeared on the Jumbotron throughout the game, and the players’ parents were honored in a brief ceremony at the end of the first quarter.

“You have just gotta realize that this is our last home game and last time we’re ever gonna be in our locker room and walk out on the field,” senior linebacker Pat Durr said. “It’s the last time we’re playing in front of our family and our home crowd.

“It’s pretty emotional, but we’ve got to let this one go. It’s not the way we want to go out, but life goes on.”

All of the healthy seniors started the game, but safety Louis Ayeni and wide receiver Roger Jordan missed the contest due to injury.

Sticky Fingers: The Cats’ 54-51 win over the Wolverines in 2000 was dubbed an instant classic. The only thing spectacular about this year’s game was Michigan wide receiver Jason Avant’s touchdown catch in the second quarter.

“That’s the greatest catch I’ve ever seen,” wide receiver Braylon Edwards said.

Avant ran a crossing route on 1st and 10 from the NU 22 yard line. The sophomore was wide open, but the ball was fired high. Avant leaped in the air and pulled in the ball with one hand.

“He makes those catches two or three times a week in practice,” Michigan quarterback John Navarre said. “Obviously I don’t want to throw every ball like that, but he just makes those catches.”

Avant’s momentum carried him into the end zone for the 22-yard score, and the former Chicago basketball standout did a crossover between his legs with the ball.

“He’s got great concentration, he’s fearless and that’s one of those catches people are going to remember,” Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said.

Rivalry Week: Beat the Buckeyes, beat the Buckeyes, beat the Buckeyes.

In the closing minutes of Michigan’s victory at Ryan Field, at least 13,000 Wolverines fans in attendance started looking forward to the Wolverines game against Ohio State next week.

The game at Michigan next week will be the 100th meeting between the two schools, and the Big Ten title is on the line this season.

“They know it’s not just another game,” Carr said about the Ohio State game. “When the championship is on the line it doesn’t get much better than that.”

After Saturday’s game, the Michigan players fielded questions about next week’s game, but the players said they didn’t overlook the Cats.

“We didn’t overlook them at all and we gave them all their respect,” Michigan wide receiver Braylon Edwards said. “We trained for them as if they were the (Ohio State) team.”

Inches to go … NU wide receiver Brandon Horn’s fourth-quarter touchdown was his first career rushing touchdown, and his third trip into the end zone this season … Linebacker Tim McGarigle led the Cats for the sixth time this season in tackles with 12. He has led the team in tackles the past four games …With 121 yards passing, quarterback Brett Basanez has surpassed the 4,000 career passing yards mark.