PERKINS LEADS PANTHERS TO 26-22 COMEBACK WIN OVER ROUGHNECKS

Panthers quarterback Bryce Perkins came into the game in the second half and was a man on a mission, recording 121 passing yards, 79 rushing yards and three total touchdowns (one passing, two rushing) in Michigan’s 26-22 comeback victory over the Houston Roughnecks on Sunday at Rice Stadium. The Panthers overcame 16 unanswered points from Houston and a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter. Michigan extends their winning streak to five games.

Perkins scored the game-winning touchdown with a five-yard rushing score with 3:36 remaining in the game.

Two Panthers contributed their first touchdowns of the season in the comeback victory: running back Nate McCrary, stepping up in the absence of Wes Hills, and wide receiver Trey Quinn.

Defensive end Breeland Speaks also recorded three sacks and four TFLs to continue his dominant campaign, moving into first in the league in both categories (8.5 sacks and 12 TFLs). Speaks now has two three-sack games this season.

Michigan will ride into Birmingham next week with their winning streak against a Stallions team coming off their first loss of the season. The Panthers and Stallions will square off in the final slate of the regular season in addition to the USFL Conference Championship the following week.

Quarterback Danny Etling made the start for Michigan, his first appearance since Week 6. Etling looked like his old self, completing 12-of-18 passes for 110 yards in the first half.

Both teams traded punts on their first possessions. It was the first time in the last five weeks that the Panthers did not open the game with a touchdown.

Etling settled in soon after, firing a 20-yard pass to Devin Ross. Three plays later, Etling connected with Siaosi Mariner for a 19-yard gain. Michigan came up empty-handed on the drive, as Jake Bates pushed a 39-yard attempt wide right.

The Panthers got the ball right back with a fumble recovery by Kenny Willekes. Jesus Gibbs forced the fumble on Mark Thompson, and Willekes returned it to Houston’s 16-yard line. Michigan found the endzone this time around for the game’s first points with a McCrary three-yard rushing score. The one-point attempt was unsuccessful, and the Panthers led 6-0 after the first quarter.

Houston responded with points of their own, a J.J. Molson 39-yard field goal to cut Michigan’s lead in half.

The Roughnecks got a takeaway of their own with a D’Juan Hines interception off Etling with 4:21 remaining before halftime. However, Breeland Speaks thwarted Houston’s opportunity to capitalize with a sack to force a punt.

Michigan was unable to hold Houston out of the endzone, as the Roughnecks only needed two offensive plays to hit paydirt to open the third quarter. Nolan Henderson connected with Justin Hall for a catch-and-run 63-yard touchdown. The two-point attempt was no good, but Houston got their first lead up 9-6.

Perkins took over for Etling in the second half but would throw an interception four plays into his first drive. The Roughnecks took advantage of the takeaway with another Hall touchdown, this time a reception of seven-yards. Hall also converted the one-point attempt to give Houston a double digit lead.

Perkins kept the drive alive on their ensuing possession with a 33-yard run on third-and-long. Three plays later, Perkins threw a four-yard touchdown to Trey Quinn. It was the first touchdown of the season for Quinn, the team’s second leading receiver. Michigan could not tally extra points, but they made it a 16-12 game.

Houston kept driving and made plays when they needed to. Henderson completed a 33-yard pass to Emmanuel Butler on third-and-long. The Roughnecks found the endzone once again with a two-yard rushing score by Thompson to reclaim their 10-point lead.

Perkins scored his first rushing touchdown of the season early in the fourth quarter to cut into Houston’s lead. Michigan’s one-point attempt was successful with a pass to Cole Hikutini, putting them within a field goal.

With the Panthers defense needing to make a stop, Ron’Dell Carter and Mika Tafua stepped up, collapsing on Henderson for a sack. Houston was later forced to punt, giving Michigan a chance to take the lead. Tafua notched his first credited sack of the season, while Carter now has 4.5.

Facing 3rd-and-14, Perkins went to his legs again, scrambling for 25 yards to keep the drive alive with less than five minutes remaining in the game. Perkins gave Michigan the lead with his second rushing touchdown of the game, Michigan’s first lead since the first quarter. Perkins found Hikutini again for the one-point conversion to lead by four.

The Roughnecks had one last chance to win the game, but the Panthers were able to get the stop and complete the comeback.

Perkins completed 12-of-15 passes for 121 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Etling completed 12-of-18 passes for 110 yards and one interception. It is a new team game high for passing yards (231). Houston completed 7-of-18 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns for Houston.

Perkins was Michigan’s leading rusher with 79 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries. Henderson was the leading rusher for the Roughnecks with nine rushes for 66 yards.

The leading receiver for Michigan was Mariner with eight receptions, a new Panthers individual game high, for 95 yards. Hall caught six balls for 109 yards and two touchdowns for the Roughnecks.

The Panthers (7-2) will conclude regular season play next Saturday on the road against the Birmingham Stallions (8-1). Kickoff is set for 2 PM ET on ESPN. The Roughnecks (1-8) will be on the road in their season finale against the Memphis Showboats (1-8), kickoff scheduled for 7 PM ET.


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