Wolverines Silence Illinois with Turnovers, Ground Game
Ryan Van Bergen

Nov. 12, 2011

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Site: Champaign, Ill. (Memorial Stadium)
Score: #22 Michigan 31, Illinois 14
Records: U-M (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten), Illinois (6-4, 2-4 Big Ten)
Attendance: 60,670 (sellout)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Nov. 19 -- vs. Nebraska (Michigan Stadium), Noon

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Junior/sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) rushed for 192 yards and the Wolverine defense posted four sacks and forced three turnovers, as the University of Michigan football team (No. 22 AP/No. 21 USA Today Coaches) defeated Illinois, 31-14, on Saturday (Nov. 12) at Memorial Stadium. U-M led 14-0 at half and never led by fewer than 10 points the rest of the game.

Michigan dominated the first half of play, shutting out the Fighting Illini. Michigan outgained the Illinois offense, 249-30, in total yards while putting up 10 first downs to Illinois' one. Against a defense that led the Big Ten in rushing yards/game this season at 103 heading into the contest, the Wolverines gained 157 on the ground in the first half.

It only took 1:45 and four plays for U-M to put points on the scoreboard to start the game. After a 65-yard run by Toussaint, the longest of his career, junior quarterback Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) took the ball in from nine yards out to give the Wolverines a 7-0 lead. It was the sixth opening drive touchdown in the past seven games for Michigan.

Early in the second quarter, Robinson ran the ball in again from two yards out to extend the Michigan lead to 14. The score marked the ninth multi-rushing touchdown game for the dual-threat quarterback in his career.

Only minutes later, the Wolverines offense marched inside the five yard-line but was stopped on four attempts at the end zone and turned the ball over on downs. On the ensuing play, the Michigan defense stripped the Illini ball carrier for its first turnover of the contest.

With one minute left in the half, a Robinson pass went off the fingertips of senior wide receiver Martavious Odoms (Pahokee, Fla./Pahokee) in the end zone, leading to a missed U-M field goal and a 14-0 Maize and Blue halftime lead.

It was not until an Illini muffed punt with 7:23 left in the third quarter that Michigan had a scoring opportunity. Sophomore quarterback Devin Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Inkster) came into the game and hit fifth-year senior receiver Junior Hemingway (Conway, S.C./Conway) on a 20-yard pass to bring the Wolverines into the red zone. The drive culminated with a 27-yard field goal by junior/sophomore kicker Brendan Gibbons (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) to give Michigan a 17-0 lead.

Illinois broke into Michigan territory for the first time all game late in the third quarter and scored on a 13-yard run by quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase to end the U-M hopes for a second conference shutout of the season.

With 11 minutes to go in the game and Illinois marching inside Michigan territory for the second straight drive, senior/junior defenseive back J.T. Floyd (Greenville, S.C./J.L. Mann) intercepted Scheelhaase's third-down pass for his third career pick and returned it 42 yards to the Illini 22-yard line. Three plays later, Gardner found Odoms on a 27-yard post pattern for a Michigan touchdown, extending the lead back to 17 points.

Despite a 16-yard sack by fifth-year senior Ryan Van Bergen (Whitehall, Mich./Whitehall) and senior Mike Martin (Redford, Mich./Catholic Central) on third down to take Illinois out of field-goal range, Scheelhaase found A.J. Jenkins for a 32-yard completion on the next play to keep the Illinois drive alive, leading to a one-yard rushing TD to cut the Michigan lead to 24-14 with 3:12 to go in the game.

On the following onside kick, senior/junior receiver Roy Roundtree (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) recovered the ball, and two plays later Toussaint took the handoff and dashed 27 yards for a touchdown, giving U-M a 17-point lead that stood as the final second ticked off the clock.

Leading the offense for the Wolverines was Toussaint, who rushed for 192 yards -- a career high -- on 27 carries with one score. Odoms also brought in two catches for 46 yards and his first touchdown of the season. On the defensive side, Martin led the way with nine tackles. Van Bergen also added seven tackles to go along with his two and a half sacks.

Michigan heads home for a two-game homestand to end the regular season, beginning with Nebraska next Saturday (Nov. 19) at noon on ESPN inside Michigan Stadium.

Contact: Justin Dickens (734) 763-4423

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