ANN ARBOR, Mich.
-- The University of Michigan football team won its first game of the 1998 season, defeating Eastern Michigan by a 59-20 score. Michigan's victory improved its all-time record against Mid-American Conference schools to a perfect 11-0.
EMU won the coin toss but deferred until the second half. The Wolverines took the opening kickoff and marched 69 yards on four Anthony Thomas (Winnfield, La.) running plays to gain an early 7-0 lead. Senior running back Clarence Williams (Detroit, Mich.) provided Michigan with good field position on the drive with a 31-yard return on the opening kickoff. The drive consumed 1:01 and ended with a two-yard run by Thomas.
The Eagles' first possession was stopped after an initial first down as senior cornerback Andre Weathers (Flint, Mich.) intercepted a third-down pass by Walt Church. Weather returned the pick 24 yards and gave Michigan the ball at the EMU 31-yard line. Anthony Thomas scored his second straight rushing TD as the Wolverines ran six plays and gained 31 yards in 2:24.
After holding EMU and forcing a punt, Michigan scored on its third consecutive series of the first quarter. Senior placekicker Jay Feely (Boca Raton, Fla.) connected on a 24-yard field goal after the Wolverines offense gained 31 yards in six plays.
Eastern Michigan scored its first points ever in the all-time series on the second-to-last drive of the first quarter. Starting at their own 23-yard line, the Eagles marched the field as they were aided by a 71-yard catch and run by Brandon Campbell. Running back Ethan Vannoy scored the EMU touchdown with a one-yard run. The PAT was thwarted as junior rush linebacker James Hall (New Orleans, La.) recorded his second extra point attempt block of the year and fourth of his career.
Leading 17-6 heading into the second quarter, Michigan punted to Eastern on the initial play of the quarter. EMU took over on its 11-yard line and proceeded to put together a drive as it moved the ball out to the 47-yard line. On a second-and-13 play, sophomore cornerback William Peterson (Uniontown, Pa.) intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 51 yards for his first career touchdown. The play was Peterson's first in 1998 after sitting out the beginning of the year due to injury. The points were the only for either team in the second quarter as the Wolverines headed into the lockerroom with a 24-6 advantage.
After U-M held Eastern Michigan to three-and-out on its first drive of the third quarter, punter Nick Avonet nailed a 65-yard punt that sophomore James Whitley (Norfolk, Va.) returned 24 yards before fumbling. The Eagles' Ken Philpot recovered the fumble. On the next play, quarterback Walt Church hit wide receiver Jermaine Sheffield for a 37-yard TD that cut the Wolverines lead to 24-13.
The Wolverines responded immediately with a touchdown drive of their own. Anthony Thomas scored his third rushing TD of the game with four-yard run. The scoring drive was helped by a roughing the kicker call on an attempted field goal. Michigan's drive consumed 7:12 as the Wolverines marched 80 yards in 16 plays.
After holding the Eagles, Michigan took over and scored its second straight TD as freshman wide receiver David Terrell (Richmond, Va.) caught a 13-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Tom Brady (San Mateo, Calif.). The Wolverines drove 63 yards in five plays to increase their lead to 38-13.
Michigan added to its lead early in the fourth quarter as Terrell caught his second straight touchdown pass. Freshman quarterback Drew Henson (Brighton, Mich.) hit Terrell for a 32-yard TD on the fourth play of the drive to give the Wolverines a 45-13 lead. The drive took only one minute, 27 seconds and went 39 yards.
On the next EMU possession, redshirt freshman inside linebacker Anthony Jordan (Jersey City, N.J.) intercepted a Church pass and returned it 32 yards for a Michigan TD. The interception return for a touchdown was the Wolverines' second of the game and only the second instance in school history that two picks were returned for TDs in a game. Rich Seabron (40 yards) and Dave Devich (23 yards) accomplished the feat in a 69-0 victory vs. Northwestern on Oct. 18, 1975.
The Eagles covered 80 yards in 12 plays for a 52-20 game on a Church four-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Vannoy.
Michigan closed out the scoring with a late touchdown by Justin Fargas (Encino, Calif.). Fargas took it over from a yard out and closed out the scoring at 59-20.
The Wolverines will open the Big Ten Conference season against intrastate rival Michigan State next Saturday (Sept. 26). The game will begin at 12:10 p.m. and will be televised by ABC Sports.
UM - Thomas 2 yd. run (Feely kick)
UM - Thomas 2 yd. run (Feely kick)
UM - Feely 24 FG
EM - Vannoy 1 yd. run (Kick failed)
UM - Peterson 51 yd. interception return (Feely kick)
EM - Sheffield 37 pass from Church (Ventura kick)
UM - Thomas 4 yd. run (Feely kick)
UM - Terrell 13 pass from Brady (Feely kick)
UM - Terrell 32 pass from Henson (Feely kick)
MI - Jordan 32 yd. interception return (Feely kick)
EM - Vannoy 4 pass from Church (Ventura kick)
MI - Fargas 1 yd. run (Epstein kick)
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423