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November 03, 2003 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 2003-11-03

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SPORTS. I:.Y

November 3, 003

SECTION

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MICHIGAN 27, ?S \ll

Playingfor
Mom, Perry
puts Blue on
his shoulders

Key play
belongs to
Wolverines
in victory
By Kyle O'Neill
Daily Sports Editor

NAWEED
SIKORA
Blowin' smoke
AST LANSING - I used to think
there was a limit to how much pun-
ishment one player could handle in a
football game before having to wave the
white flag. But Saturday afternoon, Chris
Perry's performance went beyond anything
I ever thought possible from a college foot-
ball player - especially considering what
Michigan's senior running back is going
through off the field.
Irene Perry, Chris's mother, has been
diagnosed with cancer. To keep his mother
fresh in his mind while playing, Perry has
been wearing a band around his shoulder
since the Iowa game with the word
"MOM" written on it. Chris knows there is
only so much he can control, so all he can
do is pray for his mother and keep fighting
for more yards.
"(Chris) Perry has the heart of a champi-
on," Lloyd ar said. "I love that kid and
the wayh played andathe career he& had
at Mic .g
He took "leaving it all out on the field"
to a new level - seriously, if you look
closely, you'll probably find parts of him
still lying out there.
Statistically, it went down in history as
one of the greatest rushing performances
in Michigan history. He went for 219 yards
on a school-record 51 carries, and scored a
touchdown. He also had two receptions,
giving him 53 touches on the day.
But Perry's performance transcends the
meaning of statistics. Honestly, how many
people will actually be able to recall the
exact number of carries he had in a few
years? I probably won't. But people do
remember images, such as the hopeless
look on Perry's face after last season's loss
to Ohio State in Columbus.
Perry's perseverance left me with several
intense, vivid images that stick out above
the touchdown catches or the lockdown
Michigan defense. When I look back on
this game, it will be those images that I
remember the most.
I will always remember watching Perry
late in the fourth quarter (well into the 40s
in carries), battling extreme fatigue just to
get up out of the pile after a run. I will
remember how he would lay there a few
extra seconds each time to somehow catch
his breath and get back to the huddle, only
to hear he would be carrying the ball again.
I will always remember how dirty his
jersey was late in the game. It got to the
point where it was so brown from the mud,
it looked like he was wearing a different
uniform than his teammates.
I will remember him leaning on the ref-
eree to support himself, even though he'll
tell you that he was just jokingly asking
him to take some time off the clock. And I
will remember how amazed I was that,
even though he was about to drop dead
from the beating he was taking, he was
able to maintain his concentration and still
run for positive yardage without fumbling
the football.
And I will never forget Perry's post-
game press conference. He was a beacon
of emotion, full of life; a warrior ready to
go back out for more. He said the only
thing he wished was that he had gained
more yards.
"He's always asking for 40 carries, and
this is when he needed to carry 40 times,"
running backs coach Fred Jackson said. "I
did not think he would carry 50 times, but
since we had the bye week coming up I
b thouaht it would be OK."

EAST LANSING - Rivalry games
always have a way of coming down to one
play.
Two years ago, it was Jeremy LeSueur
committing a facemask penalty that kept
the Spartans' winning drive alive.
Saturday, it was Michigan State defen-
sive tackle Matthias Askew who ripped off
Michigan center Dave Pearson's helmet on
a 2nd-and-8 sweep to the right with 2:39
remaining in the game. Had the penalty not
happened, Michigan would have been fac-
ing third-and-long and could have given
the ball back to the Spartans with two min-
utes left.
Instead, Michigan took an extra minute
off the clock with a new set of downs and
left Michigan State with 80 yards to drive
if it was going to tie the game at 27.
The Spartans managed to get just 29
yards from their own 20-yard line and then
failed on a 51-yard "Hail Mary" attempt
from Jeff Smoker to wide receiver Aaron
Alexander.
"Two or three things went through my
mind," said Michigan running backs coach
Fred Jackson of the final play. "Colorado
went through my mind twice. I was just
hoping we could end up with the ball. Did
we knock it down or intercept it?"
Jackson was obviously too caught up in
his flashbacks of the Kordell Stewart-to-
Michael Westbrook Hail Mary that beat
Michigan in 1994 to realize th'at 245-
pound linebacker Scott McClintock had
jumped over the 6-foot-5 Alexander to
intercept the pass and preserve the Wolver-
ines' 27-20 win.
Even having a chance to tie the game
had to have been a surprise for Michigan
State, which was dominated statistically by
Michigan throughout.
The Wolverines controlled the clock
(39:19 to 19:47), converted more first
downs (29 to 13), had nearly seven times
the rushing yards (216 to 36) and had a
much better third-down completion rate
(13-of-18 to 3-of-13).
After a scoreless first quarter, the
Wolverines got on the board first, using
two completions to Jason Avant for 29
yards and six of Chris Perry's 51 carries
for 24 yards to drive the field. Perry
punched the ball in from a yard out to give
Michigan a 7-0 lead.
The Spartans answered with a 20-yard
field goal by Dave Rayner on the next
drive.
Late in the second quarter, Michigan
quarterback John Navarre hit Braylon
Edwards - who had Michigan State cor-
nerback Roderick Maples beat by two
steps - on a 40-yard streak down the
middle.
The Spartans stalled out in the final
drive of the half, and Rayner missed a 57-
yard field goal wide left.
Michigan - taking advantage of the
Spartans' inability to move the ball -used
its second drive of the third quarter and
scored on a 26-yard touchdown pass from
Navarre to tight end Andy Mignery. The
Wolverines - which had been running
Perry ragged all day en route to his 219
yards - play-actioned left, bringing up the
Michigan State safeties and linebackers.
Navarre bootlegged right to find the
uncovered Mignery for the touchdown.
With a 20-3 lead, all seemed to be going
well for the Wolverines. On the very next
offensive play, though, the Wolverines
mixed up their coverage in the secondary,
allowing Michigan State wide receiver
Agim Shabaj to get free for a 73-yard
touchdown on a post pattern.
Jim Hermann told The Detroit News that
he was to blame for the mix-up in the sec-
ondary. He said the play got sent in too
late, causing safeties Willis Barringer and
Ernest Shazor to come up instead of stay
back in zone coverage, leading to Shabaj
getting open over the secondary.

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