McNamara, No. 9 Michigan rally past No. 23 Penn State 21-17

Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports
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STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Cade McNamara threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to tight end Erick All with 3:29 left and No. 9 Michigan stayed in the Big Ten championship race, rallying past tricky No. 23 Penn State 21-17 on Saturday.

McNamara completed 19 of 29 passes for 217 yards and three touchdowns to boost the Wolverines (9-1, 6-1 conference, No. 6 CFP).

Hassan Haskins ran for 156 yards on 31 carries and Roman Wilson caught a pair of touchdown passes for the Wolverines, who led 14-6 midway through the fourth quarter.

Penn State (6-4, 3-4) tried a pair of trick plays from kick formation in the first quarter, with mixed results.

Quarterback Sean Clifford withstood seven sacks, completing 23 of 43 for 205 yards and throwing a touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Warren with 7:35 to go. Clifford then tied it 14 when he connected with Jahan Dotson for a two-point conversion.

The Nittany Lions then got the ball back on a strip-sack of McNamara by defensive end Arnold Ebiketie deep in Michigan territory. Jordan Stout kicked a 31-yard field goal with 5:55 left for a 17-14 lead.

Michigan’s winning drive started with five straight runs by Haskins for 28 yards to move to the Penn State 47, setting up All’s touchdown.

The Nittany Lions couldn’t move in their last chance and Clifford’s final pass fell incomplete.

Penn State gave up three sacks on its opening drive, but got a 42-yard field goal from Stout. Four plays earlier, Stout extended the possession with an 18-yard pass on a fake punt.

The Nittany Lions forced a three-and-out, but couldn’t fool the Wolverines with another fake kick. Stout was set to kick what would’ve been a 20-yard field goal on Penn State’s second possession, but instead swung wide and caught a pass from holder Raphael Checa.

Stout was hit hard by Vincent Gray and lost the ball, and a handful of Michigan defenders pounced on it.

One possession later, the Wolverines got their first first down of the game and turned it into a 15-play, 90-yard drive that ended when McNamara tossed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Wilson with 5:49 to play in the first half.

Michigan tried to convert a fourth-and-short from midfield on its next possession, but Haskins was stopped short. Stout’s 52-yard kick cut Michigan’s lead to 7-6 at halftime.

McNamara tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Wilson early in the third quater. Later in the period, Stout bounced a 43-yard field goal attempt off the right upright, keeping Michigan ahead 14-6.

THE TAKEAWAY

Michigan: The Wolverines started slow, picked up the pace and got big contributions on the defensive side to keep their Big Ten championship hopes alive. Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo, particularly were consistently disruptive.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions continue to be dreadfully one-dimensional. Despite harping on it all week, they again failed to hit holes for big runs and averaged just 2.6 yards per yards per rush, Without any real push on ground, Clifford is having to do way too much, and his workload was even harder with all the Michigan defenders getting clean runs at him.

UP NEXT

Michigan: Visits Maryland.

Penn State: Hosts Rutgers.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.