ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The No. 3-ranked University of Michigan football team put on a dominating performance on Saturday (Sept. 9), crushing the visiting Rice Owls 38-7 in front of 109,778 fans at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines took advantage early and often, jumping out to a 21-0 lead while controlling the ball for a total of just 1:35. The Wolverines then added another touchdown in the first quarter to produce a 28-0 lead and a new school record for points in the first quarter of a game, eclipsing the previous mark of 24 points set against Northwestern in 1991.
Michigan kicked off to start the game after winning the coin toss and deferring to the second half. Rice's option quarterback Corey Evans fumbled the ball on the first play from scrimmage and U-M junior linebacker Evan Coleman (Houston, Texas/Elsik HS) recovered, giving the Wolverines possession at the Rice 18-yard line. Two plays later, senior tailback Anthony Thomas (Winnfield, La./Winnfield HS) put Michigan on the scoreboard first with a 10-yard touchdown run. Thomas ran off left guard, breaking three tackles and dragging two defenders with him over the goal line en route to a 7-0 Wolverine advantage.
After shutting down Rice on its following possession, U-M wide receiver/punt return specialist Ronald Bellamy (New Orleans, La./Archbishop Shaw HS) fielded an Owl punt near the U-M 15-yard line. Bellamy then eluded defenders before breaking free up the left sideline for a 48-yard return to the Rice 36. After a 28-yard pass to David Terrell (Richmond, Va./Huguenot HS) put the ball inside the Rice 10-yard line, redshirt freshman quarterback John Navarre (Cudahy, Wis./Cudahy HS) found wideout Marquise Walker (Syracuse, N.Y./Henniger HS) in the end zone for a touchdown, putting the Wolverines ahead 14-0.
Michigan continued its offensive explosion on its next possession, scoring for the third time in the game's first six and a half minutes thanks to Thomas' second touchdown run of the game. After Navarre connected with wideout Terrell for a 20-yard completion, Thomas took the handoff and ran over defenders again down the left side of the field, into the end zone from 27 yards out. The two-play drive required just 29 seconds to boost the U-M lead to 21-0.
The fourth score of the quarter saw Navarre connect with Walker on an 11-yard touchdown toss. The drive lasted 3:36, covering 65 yards in eight plays. The drive was highlighted by two 15-yard runs by Thomas and an 11-yard pickup from junior tailback Walter Cross (Fort Washington, Md./Oxon Hill HS) to keep the chains moving for Michigan.
U-M added to its lead late in the second quarter on Navarre's third touchdown pass of the game. The drive began at Michigan's own four-yard line and the Wolverines drove 96 yards on 17 plays utilizing a ball control attack. Key runs by freshman tailback Chris Perry (Advance, N.C./Fork Union Military, Va.) kept the chains moving for U-M. With less than a minute remaining in the half, Navarre found Terrell at the goal line and he crossed the plane for a 20-yard touchdown play to cap off the 6:28 drive. Terrell finished the game with five catches for 91 yards. With the touchdown, the Wolverines went into halftime with a 35-0 lead.
The Wolverines opened the third quarter with the ball on their own 25-yard line. Thomas rumbled for a 32-yard gain that set up first-and-goal from the nine. Three plays later, Hayden Epstein (Cardiff, Calif./Torrey Pines HS) kicked a 27-yard field goal to close out the Wolverines' scoring and boost the Michigan lead to 38-0. The drive covered 65 yards in 13 plays.
Midway through the fourth quarter the Owls got on the scoreboard when Ben Wulf completed a 68-yard touchdown pass to Ryan Sadler. Sadler caught the pass in stride at the Michigan 25-yard line and outraced Brandon Williams (Omaha, Neb./Central HS) to the end zone. Derek Crabtree's extra point capped the scoring at 38-7.
The Wolverines were led offensively by Thomas, who carried 14 times for 132 yards with two touchdowns. Navarre put together another solid outing at quarterback, completing 10-of-15 passes for 129 yards and three touchdowns. DeWayne Patmon (San Diego, Calif./Patrick Henry HS) led the Michigan defense with six tackles. Williams added five tackles, while Eric Wilson (Monroe, Mich./Monroe HS) finished with four tackles, including two for loss (three yards).
The Wolverines return to action next Saturday (Sept. 16) when they travel to Pasadena, Calif., to take on UCLA. Game time is 12:30 p.m. PDT.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423
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