The Michigan Daily - Sports Monday - November 16, 1992 - Page
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Moeller '5 decision
leaves Blue in tie
by Albert Lin
Daily Football Writer-
After scoring the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth
quarter, coach Gary Moeller elected to go for a two-point conversion
rather than try the more certain extra point.
That decision would come back to haunt the Wolverines. The
touchdown put Michigan up, 19-15, and the staff probably reasoned
that Illinois would have to score a touchdown whether Michigan was
up five (with an extra point) or six (with the two-point conversion)
points. So Elvis Grbac's pass to Burnie Legette was knocked away,
and the Wolverines remained up by four,
Illinois scored on its next drive and went up three, forcing
Michigan to score a touchdown in order to win, which it did not do.
After the game, Moeller related that he thought through situations
Friday night and Saturday morning, and that he has a chart which
helps him decide - based on point differential - what move to
If Michigan had kicked that extra point, Illinois would have been
down five, and at most could susequently go up by three provided the
Illini scored a touchdown and converted for two. And if they didn't
go for two, Michigan would be down a pair with a chance to win on a
But signals were crossed, so when Pete Elezovic lined up with 19
seconds left, the best that could happen was a tie. And that's what
A reporter pressed Moeller afterward, and he appeared dumb-
"I'll be honest, you got me at a blank," he said.
The best the coach could do was acknowledge that the chart may
have been misread, but he insisted the staff had everything planned
out and that going for two was the right thing to do.
TIES: The two ties on Michigan's record marks the first time,
since 1976 that a Wolverine team has twice in a season come away
from a game as neither winner or loser.
That Bicentennial club finished 8-2-2, with back-to-back ties in
Running back Jesse Johnson led the Michigan rushing attack as he carried the ball 23 times for 121 yards. The
Wolverines totaled 523 yards on offense, including 245 on the ground.
Continued from page 1
turnovers, the Wolverines still
clinched their second consecutive
outright Big Ten championship and
a return trip to the Rose Bowl
"It's kind of a sad way to get
yourself into a big party," Moeller
But the Wolverines were lucky to
get into that party at all Saturday.
After the Illini scored on a Jason
Verduzco two-yard run with 2:26
remaining, the Wolverines needed a
clutch drive for the tie.
Michigan took over with 2:22 to
play on its own 13-yard line.
Quarterback Elvis Grbac completed
six straight passes to move the
Wolverines down to the Illini 34
with 1:14 remaining. Moeller then
called for a second-down draw play
that Jesse Johnson broke for 17
Moeller followed that call with
another draw to Johnson that went
for a six-yard loss. Grbac took a shot
at the end zone on second down, be-
fore Moeller called for a third-down
run. On fourth down from the 22,
Moeller sent in kicker Pete Elezovic
to tie the game.
"What I thought a lot about last
night, this morning and with six
minutes remaining about this situa-
tion was to move my ballclub into
field-goal range," Moeller said. "We
ran one play to try to get the ball to
the center of the field and then take a
shot at the end zone. We didn't need
an interception with that little time
"We wanted to be Big Ten
champions. That's our goal."
Michigan called time out with 19
seconds left and sent Elezovic in for
the game-tying 39-yard field goal.
Elezovic had made five of nine field
goals on the year, but none longer
than 33 yards. He also missed an
earlier extra point.
"I told Pete on the sideline that
he made the kick against Notre
Dame. He made the kick at Purdue.
He's made the kicks whenever we
needed it," Moeller said.
Elezovic made this one too. Jay
Riemersma placed Marc Elliott's
snap two yards inside the left hash-
mark, and Elezovic split the uprights
with 16 seconds remaining.
But the game never should have
Wolverines into, only one punt, but
forced six turnovers.
"The turnovers certainly kept us
in the game early," Illinois coach
Lou Tepper said. "Michigan domi-
nated the first quarter, but I think in
the second half our players really
believed they could win."
After a lackluster first half of-
fensively, the Illini started to move
the ball in the third quarter. Illinois
put together touchdown drives of 13
and 10 plays.
"Regardless of what happened
today, Michigan is still an outstand-
ing defense," Illini offensive tackle.
Brad Hopkins said. "That Michigan
didn't do well today is not the case,
we played a good game today."
After a first half in which the
Wolverines held the Illini to 106
yards, Moeller felt his injury-
plagued defense tired.
"Our defense played well in the
first half, but we had all we could
handle in the second," Moeller said.
"We're banged up defensively and
that started to take it's toll. We
started to goof up a bit."
Michigan inside linebacker Steve
Morrison anchored the Wolverine
defense all day. Morrison had 15
solo tackles and 17 overall on the
day. He also broke up a Jason
Verduzco pass to John Wright in the
end zone to hold Illinois to a field
goal in the first half.
"I thought the defense played
well, but we can't let up like we did
in the fourth quarter," Morrison said.
"You can't use the injuries as an ex-
cuse. You have to have people step
up and play. We've had that all
" Despite the disappointment in
falling out of the national title race,
the Wolverines are already looking
forward to next week's annual Ohio
"This tie is already out of my
mind," Grbac said about 15 minutes
after the game. "I'm from Ohio, and
Ohio State is all that's on my mind. I
want to play my best game down
Player C-A Yds TD Int
Verduzco 25-38 192 0 1
Wright 1-1 -6 0 0
Total 26-39 186 1 0
Player Att Yds Avg Lg
Boyer 13 64 4.9 12
Feagin 12 49 4.1 11
Jackson 3 8 2.7 '4
Verduzco 8 7 0.9 10
Totals 36 128 3.5 12
Player No Yds Ava TD
Wright 8 57 7.1 0
Boyer 3 19 6.3 0
Dilger 3 18 6.0 0
Jackson 3 9 3.0 0
Klein 2 25 12.5 0
Koester 2 20 10.0 0
Olson 2 12 6.0 0
Fisher 1 17 17.0 0
Harrison 1 15 15.0 0
Verduzco 1 -6 -6.0 0
Totals 26 186 7.1 0
Player No Yds Avg Lg
Wells 3 127 42.3 51
Larsen 1 27 27.0 27
Richardson 1 25 25.0 25
Total 5 179 35.8 51
Player No Yds Av ! L
Voelker 1 4 4.0 4
Player No Yds Ava La
Feagin 2 40 20.0 25
Lynch 1 16 16.0 16
Total 3 56 18.6 25
Player Tac Ast Tot
Michigan tailback Tyrone Wheatley finds the endzone for a first quarter
score. The play went for 50 yards and gave the Wolverines a 7-0 lead.
the second and third games of the season, against Stanford and
In 1963, Michigan also finished the season with a pair of ties,
coming away even from games against Big Ten rivals Michigan State
And a long, long time ago, the 1910 Wolverines set the school
record for ties, going undefeated in a six-game campaign with a mark
The following year Michigan tied twice, so over a two-year span
the Wolverines' record was 8-1-5.
MILESTONES: Even though he didn't play much in the second
half - because of his problems holding onto the ball, Moeller said
- tailback Tyrone Wheatley became the 13th player in Michigan
history to have a 1,000-yard season.
His 86 net yards rushing give him 1,022 on the year, good for 17th
place on the all-time Wolverines single-season list with two games
Quarterback Grbac also surpassed a magic number. Michigan's
all-time leading passer became the first Wolverine to go over 6,000
career passing yards, and now has 6,266 in his four years.
Illinois QB Jason Verduzco did Grbac one better, going over
7,000 career passing yards. His 192 yards through the air give him
7,128 in his career.
IT'S CROWDED ...: Michigan established the NCAA single-sea-
son average attendance mark with the crowd at Saturday's game. The
106,481 fans who packed Michigan Stadium - the third largest in
Michigan history - brought the season total to 635,201, giving the
Wolverines an average of 105,867. That breaks the mark of 105,588
set by Michigan in 1985.
BUT THERE'S NO NOISE: Grbac was less than complimentary to
the crowd in his postgame comments.
"It's been like that for a while since I've been here. Maybe
because it's a big stadium and there's so much tradition," Grbac said.
"I don't know. I can't put a finger on it. I hope it improves and fans
hear what I'm saying. When we got the ball at the end, the crowd
should have got going.
'What I thought a lot
about last night, this
morning and with six
about this situation
was to move my
baliclub into field-goal
-- Gary Moe//er
come down to that final field goal.
Michigan marched up and down the
field in the first half only to be held
to seven points because of turnovers.
Michigan had 309 total yards in
the first half but had five consecu-
tive drives end in turnovers. For the
game, the Illini forced the
Richardson 22-yd FG, 4:16.
Illinois 3, Michigan 7
Richardson X33-yd FG, 0:05.
Illinois 6, Michigan 7
Boyer 8-yd run (kick failed),
Illinois 12, Michigan 13
Richardson 40-yd FG, 11:01.
Illinois 15, Michigan 13
Verduzco 2-yd run
(Richardson kick), 2:26.
Illinois 22, Michigan 19
....~ 4' Y. '' __