Wolverines Squeak By Fighting Illinois 19-17 with Last Minute Field Goal

Photo Credit: Aaron J. Thornton
By  Aaron J. Thornton

A short handed Michigan Football team found a way to beat a good Illinois team with a field goal in the final ten seconds of the game. The Wolverines, missing several key players including a number of starters, kept the game close and had many reserves step up to stay undefeated going into next week’s big game against the Ohio State Buckeyes.  

The Maize and Blue started off strong against the visiting Illini, going down the field on the opening drive of the game and scoring to take an early 7-0 lead. Running Back Blake Corum scored for the Wolverines, picking up his 18th touchdown on the year. The game became a battle of field position and defense for most of the first half. Illinois’ first points came four minutes before the half with a field goal, giving the Wolverines a 7-3 advantage over the Fighting Illini at halftime.

Midway through the third quarter, Michigan picked up another field goal on a Jake Moody 46 yard kick. The Fighting Illini would then score touchdowns on their next two possessions, both by Running Back Chase Brown (8 yard TD and 37 yard TD) to take a 17-10 lead heading into the final quarter.

In the fourth quarter, it was all Moody. Nicknamed “Money Moody” for a good reason, he scored all the points in the last quarter with three field goals, the last being the go ahead from 35 yards out with just nine seconds left in the game and securing the Wolverines victory 19-17.  Moody was four of four overall on field goals in the game.

Wolverines fans were holding their breath when their star Running Back (Corum) went down for several minutes after getting tackled in the second quarter.  He would leave the field on his own power and head to the locker room before returning for a couple plays early in the second half. The coaching staff soon after decided to not play him the remainder of the game after that. Michigan’s run game was put on the shoulders of C.J. Stokes and Isaiah Gash with the team’s #2 Running Back Donovan Edwards already sitting out the game with an injury.

The injuries to the first and second team Running Backs would also call for the team to rely on the passing game and Quarterback J.J. McCarthy to make more plays. McCarthy’s ability to throw the ball downfield has been questioned throughout the season by many fans and analysts. However under the pressure, the young QB did a good job managing the game and picking up key first downs in the fourth quarter, but he did miss on a few passes to receivers as well during the game. McCarthy finished with 18 completions on 34 attempts and had 208 passing yards on the day. Despite sitting out most of the second half, Corum had another 100 yard game as he ran for 108 yards and scored the lone touchdown for the Wolverines.

For the Fighting Illini, Brown continued his dominating run game performance adding 140 rush yards, a stat in which he leads the nation in. Quarterback Tommy DeVito of Illinois was 21-30 for 178 passing yards in the game.

Illinois will travel to Northwestern next week in their final regular season game. Michigan takes on its rival Ohio State next week in Columbus. Both the Wolverines and Buckeyes are 11-0, and meeting undefeated for the first time since 2006. Not only does the winner get bragging rights, but the game has many other implications such as a clinching the Big Ten East Division, a trip to the Big Ten Championship game, and likely a trip to the College Football Playoffs to compete for the National Championship.

Final Score:  Michigan 19 – Illinois 17

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