After missing two chances to intercept Eastern Michigan quarterback Matt Bohnet in the first quarter, David Harris was frustrated. He told himself the next time Bohnet threw in his direction, he was going to pick him off and take it to the house.
Harris’s chance came on the second play of the Eagles’ third drive. He broke up Bohnet’s pass to wide receiver Eric Deslauriers – but once again, Harris couldn’t hold onto the rock.
“Unfortunately, I started running before I caught the ball,” Harris said. “The players got on me a little bit, but it was all good.”
That it was – at least for Michigan. Harris’s butter fingers were the only misfortune for the Wolverines on Saturday, and they cruised to a 55-0 win over the Eagles.
One week after Michigan fumbled its way to a 17-10 loss against Notre Dame, the Wolverines’ offense exploded for 465 yards en route to Michigan’s most lopsided victory since beating Indiana 58-0 in 2000. Quarterback Chad Henne – who was heavily criticized last week for his performance against Notre Dame – amassed 147 yards through the air in one half of action.
Henne also made an impact with his feet. Showing more poise in the pocket than he did a week ago, Henne scrambled three times for 16 yards, including a 13-yard first-down run in the second quarter. That drive ended on a six-yard touchdown pass from Henne to fullback Brian Thompson that gave Michigan a 35-0 advantage with eight minutes left in the half.
“Coming off a loss, it shows that we can be dominant,” Henne said. “We came out and proved that we can play offensively and defensively and put some points on the board.”
Michigan’s offense did get a little help from the Eagles’ struggling special teams. Four minutes into the game, Eastern Michigan’s Jerry Topolinski snapped the ball over punter Andrew Wellock’s head. The ball bounced back to the Eagles’ 20-yard line, where Michigan linebacker Prescott Burgess recovered it. That play set up a 10-yard touchdown run for tailback Max Martin.
“We got great field position, and we just took advantage of it this time,” Henne said. “In the red zone we scored touchdowns, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Michigan didn’t waste time capitalizing on its first trip inside the Eagles’ 20, which came thanks to Steve Breaston’s electrifying 72-yard punt return just over two minutes into the first quarter. Martin ran the ball on the ensuing three plays, finding the end zone on a one-yard run to the left side of the line.
Starting in place of injured Mike Hart, Martin received the bulk of the carries, running 26 times for 128 yards.
The Wolverines’ defense continued its resurgence by stifling Eastern Michigan’s spread offense. Michigan held the Eagles to 134 yards of total offense and pressured the mobile Bohnet throughout the game. Rush linebackers LaMarr Woodley and Tim Jamison recorded one sack apiece, and cornerback Morgan Trent notched the first interception of his career.
According to Harris, it was all part of the game plan.
“When you play a team that runs the type of offense that they do, every man has to be focused,” Harris said. “If one man is not, a big play could happen. We were just ready for everything they threw at us.”