On a day when kicker Troy Nienberg got injured because he was
trying too hard to get a tackle, Michigan was out on a mission.

Janna Hutz
Chris Perry leaps over Illinois safety Marc Jackson while pushing off linebacker Antonio Mason for the first of his two airborn touchdowns. Perry finished with 140 yards, leaving him one short of 1,000 on the season. (DANNY MOLOSHOK/Daily)

One week after giving up 424 yards on the ground while not being
able to gain 100 itself, Michigan was out to prove against Illinois
that it would be ready for Big Ten leaders, Purdue and Michigan
State.

Consider the ground attack and defense back – at least for this
week in a 56-14 win over the Fighting Illini.

Chris Perry ran for 140 yards, while his defense held Illinois
starter E. B. Halsey to just 12 on eight carries.

“We wanted to get an early lead and choke them out for the rest
of the game,” Michigan captain linebacker Carl Diggs said. “That is
one thing we wanted to do to prove to the coaching staff that we
could get the job done.”

Michigan’s early start began on its first drive, when the
Wolverines rode Perry for 42 yards of its 71-yard touchdown drive.
The senior cutback left from the 25-yardline to give Michigan its
first first-drive touchdown of the season.

After a quick Illinois three-and-out, Perry was run ragged again
– this time for 38 yards of the 61-yard touchdown drive – and
finished off the drive with the first of his two one-yard leaps
over Illinois defenders.

“I always say that my vertical is 45 inches,” Perry said. “I
just hope that when I jump, I land safely.”

Michigan’s offense cooled down, stalling out on its next two
drives, which amounted to just 29 yards.

Enter Steve Breaston – the unofficial crowd-starter of the Big
House.

Totaling minus-three yards in his first two punt returns and
staring a bouncing ball in the face, it appeared that Breaston had
two options. He was going to let the ball bounce, or just take the
two-yard gain that he was going to get with Illinois’ Marcus Mason
staring him down.

Juke right to the sideline, juke left, freeze Mason, pick up a
block from Jon Shaw and Alijah Bradley on Illinois’ Eric McGoey,
reach the West sideline, get blocks from LaMarr Woodley and Darnell
Hood, cut back to the middle of the field … and then run into the
endzone for the second-longest punt return for a touchdown in
school history (74 yards, behind Charles Woodson’s 78-yarder in
1997).

“That was a great job, what he did,” Hasley said. “He’s a
tremendous athlete back there and a lot of teams like to put their
best athletes back there to catch punts. He shows a lot of
confidence, a lot of heart and he’s confident in his blockers, that
his blockers will make plays for him. So he does a tremendous job
for them.”

Post-Breaston hysteria, the game belonged to the defense and the
backups.

Backup fifth-year senior tight end Andy Mignery got his first
touchdown when Navarre hit him for a quick nine-yard hitch –
Mignery actually carried a defender into the endzone as he caught
the ball on the four-yardline.

“It feels so good, it’s awesome – I saw the endzone and I said,
‘I’m getting in there,'” Mignery said. “And that was it.”

Backup running backs Tim Bracken and Jerome Jackson each got
eight carries and one touchdown, producing 54 and 57 yards,
respectively.

The defense also showed its worth, holding Illinois to just 252
yards on the day – 89 coming on the ground. Safety Ernest Shazor
had an interception, cornerback Jeremy LeSueur broke up a Chris
Pazan pass to Ade Adeyamo that would have gone for a touchdown and
Woodley recorded two tackles in his first start as a Wolverine –
including one sack that was taken away because of a holding penalty
on the Fighting Illini.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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