Guest post by Steve “Dr. Sap” Sapardanis

On a cold, cloudy, 34 degree November Saturday in Ann Arbor, Mike Lantry pulled Michigan from the depths of despair to the heights of ecstasy. In the last minute of the tenth game of the 1972 season against the Purdue Boilermakers, “Super Toe,” as Bob Ufer referred to him, kicked a game winning field goal….that no one remembers.

Before getting into the reasons why this moment is lost in U-M lore, here’s how it all went down:

  • Trailing 3-0 at the half against a very determined Purdue defense, Michigan came out and scored a touchdown on their first drive of the second half. Unfortunately, Lantry’s PAT was wide right and the Boilermakers now only trailed, 6-3.
  • After Purdue tied the game at 6 with field goal on the last play of the 3rd quarter, Lantry had a chance to give Michigan the lead early in the 4th quarter. This time his 49-yard field goal attempt came up short.
  • Later in the final quarter, as Purdue drove down the field looking for the win, Randy Logan intercepted a Gary Danielson pass to set up a final shot for Michigan.
  • With the weight of the game (as well as the season) on his shoulders and left toe, Lantry composed himself and calmly booted a 30-yard field goal into a swirling 8 mph wind with one minute and four seconds remaining to give Michigan the 9-6 victory.

Lantry’s fourth field goal of the year kept Michigan undefeated heading into the season-ending tilt with Ohio State the following week.   The next time Michigan Stadium would witness this would be 11 years later when Bob Bergeron kicked the game winner against Iowa in 1983.

So why has this game-winning, last minute field goal not been remembered as such a big deal?   First off the game was not broadcast on TV.  On top of that, there is no known audio clip of Ufer calling this game-winning field goal, not even in the deep archives of the King of Michigan Media Art Vuolo.  And of course an audio clip might have helped immortalize Lantry (alongside the likes of Bergeron, Brabbs, etc.). 

Thankfully the U-M Bentley Historical Library came through with a classic pic of Lantry’s heroics from longtime photographer Bob Kalmbach:

Mike Lantry 1972 Purdue 
Attention(!) If anyone out there has Ufer’s call of this clutch field goal, by all means please pass it along!

 

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7 Comments

  1. Lantry did the best he could, but as noted, he missed the extra point that caused the need for the last minute field goal. Unfortunately, Lantry is remember for the kicks he missed against Ohio than for the ones he made.

  2. If Lantry’s kick to beat Purdue in 1972 is “forgotten,” then Dana Coin’s field goal to beat Purdue at Purdue in 1971 is completely lost. Those old enough to remember the early 70’s have many bad memories of field goals and field goal attempts, but Dana only had one opportunity to win a game, and he did so, with 26 seconds to go, keeping us undefeated. He never gets his due, in my opinion. I only wish he had been around to kick over the next few years.

  3. Another reason the kick has been forgotten is that we lost 14-11 the next week down in Columbus, which then kept us home for the holidays. If we’d beaten OSU and then gone on to the Rose Bowl, that kick would have loomed much larger.

    Ironically, the 14-11 loss featured two or three Michigan drives that stalled on the very edge of the OSU goal line, with Bo going for it on fourth down twice, declining to try for a field goal. If he’d opted for the FG on both occasions, it’s possible that Lantry would be lionized for beating OSU with FGs.

    • The loss the following week does sort of cloud this moment, yes. But at the time, the kick was a big deal because had Purdue won or tied, they would have gone to the Rose Bowl. The schedule GODS kept them from playing Ohio State that year and the Bucks already had a shocking loss to Michigan State.

      While broadcasting the 2003 Michigan/Purdue game, Brent Musberger brought up the fact that the Big House had been Purdue’s “house of horrors” for so many years and Gary Danielson mentioned the 1972 game being the most painful of his career because they would have gone to the Rose Bowl had they won. (I had no idea he threw an interception that set up Lantry’s kick.)

      So I guess at that moment, this had to be a huge win. If Purdue is victorious, both Michigan and Ohio State are home for the holidays regardless of what happens in Columbus the following week.

  4. Great comments gents, thanks. Makes me think an interview with Lantry is in order. I know a lot of his emotion around the OSU kicks was on display in the 10-10 tie documentary, but I’d like to hear more.. -G

  5. What about Ali Haji-Sheikh?

  6. He was a good kicker but he was never put in a position where he had to pull out an end of the game kick for a victory. He was the kicker on the 1980 Rose Bowl champion team, and that defense wasn’t going to let many teams score. Haji-Sheikh did shank an extra point against OSU in Columbus, however, keeping that a stressful 9-3 lead but the defense ended up keeping the Bucks out of the end zone all day so disaster was avoided.