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November 15, 1999 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1999-11-15

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1 Ie SiTrigan iIg

k

::I

Michigan

, Penn State

Pen mont
Defense shushes
critics, Lions rushers
By Rick Freeman
Daily Sports Editor
STATE COLLEGE - When it was all over, Todd
Howard was too tired to properly celebrate. He took a
cheerleader's giant 'M' flag, waved it back and forth a
few times, and had to give it back to go slap hands
with the Michigan fans - most of whom had traveled
more than 300 miles to see the biggest win of
Michigan's once-again promising season.
Among those who stood atop a rolled-up tarp along
the east stands at Beaver Stadium were Howard, safe-
_ ty Cato June and several other defensive players, who
deserved the loudest cheers for their efforts in
Michigan's 31-27 victory on Saturday.
r" "I didn't realize how heavy it was," said Howard,
whose defensive teammates held Penn State to its
lowest rushing total - seven yards - in the 50 years
Joe Paterno has coached at the school. As a team, they
were stellar, but individually, they shone when need-
ed.
-°'As Penn State tried to seal its 27-24 lead in the
fourth quarter, the much-maligned James Whitley
broke up a pass to Eddie Drummond, the same player
who caught a 37-yard touchdown in the third quarter
that floated maddeningly out of Whitley's reach.
As Penn State tried to rally from its 31-27 deficit,
Howard stuck to Chafie Fields tighter than he had all
day.
And with Penn State threatening from Michigan's
34-yard line, Ian Gold reached up and knocked the
ball out of Penn State quarterback Kevin Thompson's
hands. Linebacker Larry Foote recovered the ball, but
his entire team recovered most of the dignity lost
almost a month ago with back-to-back losses to
Michigan State and Illinois.
"I'm proud of the kid," Michigan defensive coordi-
nator Jim Hermann said of Whitley. "Most kids would
have jumped in the tank, but not him."
The same could be said of Michigan's defense. The
unit which may have knocked the Wolverines out of
the national title chase helped them back into the hunt
for a Bowl Championship Series bowl.
For the fourth year in a row and seventh time this
decade, it seems Michigan will play in a New Year's
LOUIS BROWN/Daiy Day bowl game. Which one that is - and the options
Michigan's James Hall has reason to celebrate - the Wolverines' 31-27 victory over Penn State gives them BCS hopes,
while rocketing them forward in the polls heading into this week's al-important matchup against Ohio State. See LIONS, Page 48
Where, when will roller coaster ride end or MicAigan?

TATE COLLEGE - From the out-
side, Penn
State's Beaver
Stadium has the feel V e
of a roller coaster at Berka
an amusement park.
The steel infrastruc-
ture holds up the
90,000-plus seat sta-
dium, and the fans
have to weave their
way through maze-
like aisles to get to
their seats.I
So it was fitting
that Saturday's game
between the Nittany Lions and Michigan
had a roller-coaster feel. Just when you
thought that one team had the upper hand,
that team's prospects fell while the other
team's hopes rose.
Michigan experienced all the highs and

lows that go along with a thrilling ride. At
times it looked like the Wolverines were
going to repeat the beatings that they gave
Penn State the past two years, as the
defense massacred Kevin Thompson and
the offense sliced through the Penn State
defense with surgeon-like precision.
But at other times, it was Michigan get-
ting massacred. LaVar Arrington and Co.
beat Tom Brady excessively while the
Penn State passing attack repeatedly
burned the Michigan secondary.
Of course, this was nothing new to the
Michigan football fans. All year, they have
seen the Wolverines take the role of two
teams - the unbeatable juggernaut and
the resistible force.
All this roller-coaster action leaves a
huge question: What team is the true
Michigan team? The swaggering power-
house or the gun-shy pretender?
Judging by what I've seen the past 10

games, I would say that Michigan is a lit-
tle of both.
Michigan's defense will enter games
riding a tidal wave of emotion. It showed
that against the Nittany Lions, swarming
to the ball and forcing two fumbles in the
initial two drives.
The Wolverines also showed the ability
to make the opposition pay for its mis-
takes. Michigan took advantage of the two
turnovers to build a 10-0 lead in the first
seven minutes of the game.
That tendency is something Michigan
has shown often this year. The Wolverines
have burst out to double-digit leads early
in eight of their 10 games. During these
streaks, Michigan has looked like one of
the better teams the nation.
But like the Gemini at Cedar Point, the
Wolverines don't stay at their peak for
very long. Like a five-year old kid after
eating a carton of Sweet and Low,

Michigan loses its focus and tends to roam
aimlessly around the field.
The Wolverines went through this streak
in the second half against the Nittany
Lions. After Brady connected with Marcus
Knight on a 35-yard touchdown pass early
in the third quarter, Michigan decided to
play around for a while.
Like many good teams, Penn State took
advantage of Michigan's lack of focus,
scoring 20 points in the span of 14 min-
utes. When Penn State cornerback Bhawoh
Jue returned an interception 46 yards to
put Penn State up 27-17, it looked as if
Michigan were dead.
It's often easy to throw dirt on this
group of Wolverines. During a game, they
won't be able to run the ball, they will call
the same three plays for a quarter-and-a-
half and they will cover receivers with the
tenacity of a hippie after a bong toke.
See BERKA, Page 5B

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -The Michigan men's cross coun-
ry team headed into Saturday's NCAA Great Lakes
nal in Terre Haute, Ind., with hopes of qualifying for
ext week's NCAA Championship.
While Michigan's third-place finish wasn't as good as
ome of the runners had hoped for, barring a highly unex-
ected decision by the selection committee, the Wolverines
ill still be hitting the road for Bloomington.
Despite the fact that only the top two teams in each region-
I meet received an automatic bid, Michigan's season-long
erformance, as well as its quality run on Saturday, should be
ood enough to snag one of the 13 at-large bids to be
nnounced today.
expected, the top three spots were taken by Wisconsin,
e Dame and Michigan. And as expected, no one else
really came close.
With-51 points, the Big Ten Champions, Wisconsin, added
Great Lakes Region champions to its trophy case.
The Badgers were followed by Notre Dame with 68 points
and Michigan with 79. The next closest competitor was Ohio
State with 137 points.
"I thought everyone ran really well today, everyone under
control," Wisconsin coach Jerry Schumacher said. "We did-
n't overextend ourselves."
r the Badgers, Big Ten runner-up Jay Schoenfelder fin-
id first, followed by Big East champion and Michigan
native Ryan Shay. Rounding out the top three was Michigan's
senior co-captain, Jay Cantin, who finished nine seconds
behind the leader.
Big Ten champion Matt Downin, a senior from Wisconsin,
finished fourth. With Wisconsin's bid all but guaranteed,
Schumacher had his star runner hold back, making sure to

Women wait
for NCAA fate
By David Horn
Daily Sports Writer
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The Michigan women's cross
country team is on the bubble. But it will not have to gather in
coach Mike McGuire's living room on a Sunday night. The
Wolverines will not have to wait anxiously for Dick Vitale and
Digger Phelps to say the word, Michigan.' There will also be
no NIT. Yet the season's outcome will remain in doubt until the
NCAA gives McGuire a simple phone call sometime today.
Michigan finished third at the Great Lakes Regional here
on Saturday. A second-place finish would have secured the
Wolverines a spot among the 31 teams that are to compete a
week from today at the national meet in Bloomington.
Michigan State secured second with a score of 110, keeping
them two points out of reach of the Wolverines.
The top two teams from each region receive automatic bids
to nationals, while teams like Michigan - third- and fourth-
place finishers in strong regions - await one of the 13 at-
large bids that will be awarded.

Soccer ousted
by Wake Fores
By David Mosse
Daily Sports Writer
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The curtain came down on
Michigan's season in gut-wrenching fashion as the Wolverines
dropped a hard fought decision, 1-0, to Wake Forest in
Saturday's second-round NCAA Tournament game.
Coming off a 5-0 annihilation of Wright State on
Wednesday, Michigan entered the game confident but weary
from playing its fifth game in seven days.
The Wolverines had the first scoring opportunity two min-
utes into the game. But Abby Crumpton rushed her shot, and
it rolled weakly to goalkeeper En Regan.
As the half went on, the Demon Deacons asserted their con-
trol with several menacing runs down the side of the field.
"We told our wing midfielders to try and attack," Wake
Forest Tony Da Luz said. "We thought we could exploit them
in those areas of the field."
Forward Emily Taggart led many such attacks, drifting
through the midfield with elegance and taking off on powerful

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