3:30 PM ET, October 31, 2009
Memorial Stadium (Champaign, IL), Champaign, IL
Illinois breaks out with 500+ total yards against struggling Michigan
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree cradled the ball and sprinted for the end zone.
Terry Hawthorne took off after him, finally catching up 76 yards down the field and spilling him across the goal line. Points went up on the board and it looked as if another long afternoon for the Illini was taking shape.
And it was, until a video review ruled Roundtree down at the 1, the Illini stopped Michigan on four straight runs, and Juice Williams answered with a 99-yard touchdown drive to take the lead on the way to a 38-13 win over the Wolverines.
"A lot of guys would have quit," said Illinois coach Ron Zook, recipient of a dreaded vote of confidence earlier in a season almost completely without any redeeming features. "Terry didn't quit. He kept going. He made the play of the game, maybe the play of the year."
Before the goal-line turnaround, Michigan had given up just 94 yards of offense. Twice it appeared ready to take a 20-7 lead on the way to what would have been its first road win this season.
Instead, the Illini (2-6, 1-5 Big Ten) finished with 500 yards of offense and Michigan looked almost as lost as it did at times during last season's 3-9 fiasco.
"It's a big momentum change, particularly on the road," Rodriguez said. "When you have the chance to seize momentum and you let it reverse on the road, it's tough."
More than half of Illinois' second-half surge came on three touchdown drives that surrounded a pair of ugly three-and-outs led by freshman quarterback Tate Forcier.
Most of that 99-yard drive came on Mikel LeShoure's 70-yard burst up the middle, but Williams, who ended three first-half drives with sacks on third down, led two more drives to put the game out of reach.
He capped a 79-yarder with his 2-yard toss to London Davis. And after Michigan went backward on its next possession the Illini went 45 yards for another touchdown, this one a 3-yard run by Williams for a 28-13 lead.
Michigan (5-4, 1-4) turned the ball over three times, twice when Forcier coughed it up in the second half.
A year after ending a three-decade bowl streak and finishing 3-9 in coach Rich Rodriguez's first season, the Wolverines remain one win from eligibility, but have four straight Big Ten losses and a win over Delaware State in its last five.
"We haven't given ourselves much of a chance because of some of our own errors," Rodriguez said. "Again, you have to give them credit, too, because they made plays, but we've got to play a little bit more efficient to give ourselves a chance."
Illinois hadn't beaten a Bowl Subdivision opponent this season. But Michigan turned the ball over three times and seemed to breathe life into a team that barely appeared competitive during a five-game losing streak to start the Big Ten season.
"A lot of teams in this situation usually give up, quit," Williams said after Illinois ended a five-game losing streak. "But we made a pact amongst ourselves that we aren't going to stop until the end of the season."
Williams, who went wild on the Wolverines last season with 431 yards of total offense -- ran for 97 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown and completed 8 of 11 passes for 123 yards and another score.
Michigan, which started 4-0 with a win over Notre Dame, hosts Purdue next Saturday, then travels to Wisconsin before wrapping up the regular season at home against Ohio State.
"We're not getting wins that we should, we're just playing for pride now," safety Troy Woolfolk said. "We know we're not able to win the Big Ten, but we still have a chance to go to a bowl."
Forcier finally got the Wolverines moving on the next drive, which looked promising until he was sacked and fumbled at the Illinois 16.
He finished 13 of 23 for 257 yards and Carlos Brown had 110 yards rushing on 25 carries and a touchdown.
Roundtree had four catches for 92 yards, including the 76-yarder he was stopped on.
Illinois added a field goal and another stop. When Michigan blocked a punt with 3:49 to play, the Wolverines were in a three-score hole with only the faintest hopes left.
Forcier immiediately ended those by fumbling the ball back at the Illini 15, Six plays later, Jason Ford went 79 yards to put a cherry on top for Illinois.
Before the goal-line turnaround, Michigan had pretty much shut down Williams, who accounted for more than 400 yards of offense in their meeting last season, a 45-20 rout by Illinois.
Though the Illini can still get to six wins, it won't be easy. They go to Minnesota and host Northwestern before a trip to Cincinnati (No. 8 BCS, No. 5 AP) and a home date with Fresno State.
"This game doesn't mean everything is OK," Zook said. "We've still got four games to go."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-14||7-14|
|4th Down Conversions||0-3||0-0|
|TD||08:54||Arrelious Benn 3 Yd Run (Matt Eller Kick)||0||7|
|TD||03:39||Carlos Brown 2 Yd Run (Jason Olesnavage Kick)||7||7|
|FG||07:14||Jason Olesnavage 29 Yd||10||7|
|FG||01:34||Jason Olesnavage 42 Yd||13||7|
|TD||08:58||Mikel LeShoure 70 Yd Run (Matt Eller Kick)||13||14|
|TD||05:31||London Davis 2 Yd Pass From Juice Williams (Matt Eller Kick)||13||21|
|TD||01:11||Juice Williams 3 Yd Run (Matt Eller Kick)||13||28|
|FG||09:21||Matt Eller 23 Yd||13||31|
|TD||01:45||Jason Ford 79 Yd Run (Matt Eller Kick)||13||38|