ANN ARBOR, Mich.
-- The University of Michigan football team regained the Paul Bunyan Trophy with a 49-3 win over Michigan State on Saturday (Nov. 2) in front of the third-largest crowd in Michigan Stadium history (111,542). Michigan scored 49 unanswered points following the Spartans' opening field goal. The Wolverines improved to 7-2 overall and remained in the hunt for the Big Ten title at 4-1 in conference play. Michigan State (3-6, 1-4 Big Ten) was handed its fourth consecutive loss.
B.J. Askew (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain HS) and Ronald Bellamy (New Orleans, La./Archbishop Shaw HS) had career days for the Maize and Blue with two touchdowns apiece. Askew had a career-high 149 yards on 32 carries, while Bellamy finished the game with five catches and a career-best 124 receiving yards. John Navarre (Cudahy, Wis./Cudahy HS) threw for three touchdowns and ran for a third, finishing with 229 yards on 16-of-27 passing.
The Wolverines gave Michigan State good field position on its opening drive, after being called for a two-yard halo violation on the Spartan punt return. MSU scored a 39-yard field goal to go ahead 3-0 minutes into the game, spurred on by a 26-yard pass through zone coverage to Charles Rogers.
Michigan then scored on its next three drives to take a commanding lead. The Maize and Blue's first touchdown was set up by freshman Jason Avant's (Chicago, Ill./Carver HS) first career catch, an 11-yard completion on third down, and a Jermaine Gonzales (Pontiac, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary's HS) reception for 21 yards, his first catch of the year, to the 11-yard line. Michigan took the lead 7-3 with a two-yard fourth-down rush by Askew with 6:43 left in the first quarter.
Michigan was helped to its second touchdown in as many possessions by a 15-yard facemask penalty after a catch by Braylon Edwards (Detroit, Mich./Bishop Gallagher HS) at the 31-yard line. Askew pushed the Wolverines to the goal line with consecutive rushes and Navarre finished the scoring drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge to make the score 14-3 with one minute left in the first quarter.
Navarre gave the Wolverines a 18-point advantage, 21-3, with a 38-yard pass into the right corner of the end zone to Bellamy with 12:53 to go in the second quarter. Bellamy caught the ball over his shoulder for his second touchdown reception of the year.
By the end of the first half, Michigan had out-gained MSU 203 yards to 112, with a balanced attack led by Askew and Navarre. The Wolverines were also strong on third-down conversions, going 5-for-10.
Michigan's first scoring drive of the new half hinged on a key third down when an Edwards catch for 11 yards plus a 13-yard personal foul call on the Spartans delivered U-M to the 12-yard line. Three plays later Navarre found Bennie Joppru (Wayzata, Minn./Minnetonka HS) in the left flat, and Joppru then dove over the goal line for the 12-yard touchdown to extend the Michigan lead to 28-3 with 4:57 left in the third quarter.
The following possession saw Bellamy pick up his second touchdown of the day on a 47-yard touchdown pass to make the score 35-3. The play was Michigan's longest passing play of the season and launched Bellamy over the 100-yard plateau for the first time in his career.
The Maize and Blue scored again with 9:15 remaining in the game on Askew's second touchdown. The Wolverines relied on the running game to gain the touchdown, as Askew and Perry accumulated 50 and 31 yards, respectively.
With time winding down in the game, Tim Bracken (White Castle, La./Saint John HS) scored his first career touchdown to give Michigan a final score of 49-3. The drive was set up by the first interception of senior Blake Nasif's (Lansing, Mich./Grand Ledge HS) U-M career.
The Wolverines continue Big Ten Conference play next week, facing Minnesota on Saturday (Nov. 9) at 6:45 p.m. CST in Minneapolis, Minn. ESPN will televise the contest.
Contact: David Ablauf, Jim Schneider (734) 763-4423