4E - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition 2006
are with the legendary
eams of ic ans storied past, the
'-'0 ootball sqaud turned out to
be a bust. Here's a look back at the
best - and worst - moments that
defined an otherwise mediocre
season for the Iverines.
Aw, shucks: Crazy end
can't save Wolverines
By Ian Herbert
Daily Sports Editor
SAN ANTONIO - ItresembledCaliforniavs. Stan-
ford in 1982, but without the fairytale ending.
Down by four with two seconds left, Michigan lined
up on its own 36-yard line.
Michigan never considered throwing a 60-yard pass,
instead opting for a hook-and-ladder-style finish.
Chad Henne to Jason Avant to Steve Breaston, and so
on. All Michigan's key offensive players were involved,
including Mike Hart and Mario Manningham,but in the
end - with players and coaches, fans and media mem-
bers all on the field - Tyler Ecker, who was tackled 13
yards shy of the goal line, was the last player to touch
The Wolverines went home losers of their third
straight bowl game - this time a 32-28 defeat in the
Alamo Bowl at the hands of Nebraska. The game
capped off a nightmare season for Michigan (5-3 Big
Ten, 7-5 overall), which ended the worst football season
in more than 20 years with two straight losses.
"Things happened at the end that need to be looked at
on film,' Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "Our players
Avant, a senior co-captain, called it the most poorly
officiated game he'd ever played in. Some Michigan
players claimed that Titus Brothers, the player who
tackled Ecker, was not originally a part of the final play,
but review showed that he was in fact one of Nebraska's
deep defensive backs.
But even without the confusion at the end, Michigan
had its chances. After a seven-yard touchdown run by
Henne early in the fourth quarter, Nebraska trailed by
11. It looked as if the game was out of reach. With less
than 12 minutes to play, the Wolverines needed to pro-
tect the football and move the chains to pick up their first
bowl game win in three years.
But that proved to be a monumental task.
First, it was the Michigan defense giving up a 31-
yard touchdown run to running back Cory Ross, who
finished with 165 yards and a score en route to offensive
Then, Nebraska made it a three-point game,
28-25, on a successful two-point conversion.
On the ensuing possession, the Wolverines drove down
the field and into Nebraska territory - bouncing back,
but only for a moment.
Avant, after finding a seam in the Nebraska zone
and picking upa first down, fumbled the ball. And even
though the Cornhuskers were forced to punt just a few
plays later, Avant said he puta lot of blame for the loss
"I can't fumble the ball," Avant said. "I never fum-
ble the ball.... I puta lot of blame on me because that
took away field position and momentum and gave it to
Henne also lost the pigskin,a mistake that put Nebras-
ka on Michigan's 17-yard line and set up the final score.
It was a 13-yard strike from Nebraska quarterback Zac
Taylor to sophomore receiver Terrence Nunn that put
the Cornhuskers ahead by four and forced Michigan to
attempt a last-minute, come-from-behind drive for the
sixth time this season.
The Wolverines' drive included five complete passes
- all to Avant - along with runs by Hart totaling 24
yards and three incomplete pass attempts inside the 20.
Hart finished the game with 83 yards but no touch-
downs. He struggled to find seams early in the game
but finished with 40 yards in the final quarter. Henne
finished strong as well, but it was his earlier heroics that
stood out. He tied Alamo Bowl records with three pass-
ing touchdowns and four total touchdowns - one rush-
ing. He was 21-for-43 with one interception, and also
had a handful of long runs for first downs.
"I haven't seen the stats, but I think Chad did some
great things" Carr said after the game. "He gave us a
chance to win at the end."
- This article originally ran Jan. 5,2006.
Junior wide receiver Steve Breaston reacts to falling just short at the Alamo Bowl. Breaston streaked behind
tight end Tyler Ecker awaiting a pitch on the game's final play, but never received the ball.
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caught a 10-
pass as time
expired to give
a victory over
Manningham's heroics help
Varsity topple Nittany Lions
By Ian Herbert had to watch visiting teams tinue to face the critics. After
Daily Sports Editor end games in the Big House taking a 10-0 lead four minutes
by celebrating with their fans. into the second half, Henne and
Mario Manningham wasn't This time, it was Michigan's the Wolverines handed the ball
the first option - that was turn. The Wolverines ran from - and the game - to the Nit-
Steve Breaston in the slot. there to the student section tany Lions, literally. Just one
But with one second left in and jumped into the stands play after Penn State had tied
the game, Manningham beat - to sing and dance with their the game at 10 on a four-yard
Penn State's best cornerback, Maize-clad peers. touchdown run by dual-threat
Alan Zemaitis, on a 10-yard Sophomore quarterback quarterback Michael Robin-
post to finish off the upset of Chad Henne led Michigan on son, Henne lined up under
No. 8 Penn State. With more an eight-play, 53-yard drive center, and, with no receiv-
than 111,000 people scream- in the final 53 seconds. The ers open, Henne took off and
ing in Michigan Stadium and drive, which came just after picked up seven yards. But as
who knows how many more Penn State scored to take the he was going down, Zemaitis
watching on TV, it was Man- lead with less than a minute took the ball out of his hands
ningham who made the game's left included five completed and returned it 35 yards for a
most important catch in the passes by Henne to go along touchdown.
game's most pressure-filled with an 11-yard run by Hart. But even after marching
situation. For the game, Henne went 21 downfield and scoring on the
And then he was off. for 36 for 212 yards and two bomb to Manningham, the
After Manningham made the touchdowns - both to Man- Wolverines had their work cut
catch to seal Michigan's 27-25 ningham. After the game, out for them - because they
win over No. 8 Penn State, he coach Lloyd Carr took the had let Penn State convert a
dropped the ball and took off opportunity to vent about the two-point conversion after
running. And like much of the critics. the Robinson touchdown run.
afternoon against Penn State "Well, Chad Henne is a great "Convert" might be the wrong
defensive backs, no one could quarterback, and anyone that word for what Penn State did.
catch him. knows anything about quar- A botched snap forced Kevin
"I was trying to chase him terback play would understand Kelly, the Nittany Lions' 5-
down, but he's just too fast," that," Carr said. "But there are foot-7, 175-pound freshman
sophomore running back Mike a lot of people out there that kicker, to run the ball in for
Hart said. "He was running don't know a quarterback from two points. So Michigan gave
away from everybody." a first baseman, so they don't the ball to Hart for a three-
Twice this season - against know that." yard scoring run that tied the
Notre Dame and Minnesota But for a while, it seemed game at 18.
- the Michigan players have as if Henne might have to con- See MARIO, Page 9E