12:00 PM ET, October 18, 2003
Michigan Stadium, ANN ARBOR, MI
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Chris Perry helped Michigan get the blowout it wanted.
Perry ran for three touchdowns and 140 yards and Steve Breaston returned a punt 74 yards for a score as the 17th-ranked Wolverines beat Illinois 56-14 Saturday.
Michigan's Chris Perry piles on for one of his three TDs.
Michigan (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) led 35-0 at halftime and avoided a letdown after rallying from a 21-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat Minnesota last week in the biggest comeback in school history.
The Wolverines were supposed to rout Indiana last month after an emotional game, but they were flat during a 31-17 win after losing at Oregon.
"We learned a lot from the Indiana game," Perry said. "I don't know if I'd call this a businesslike blowout, but we knew what we were capable of doing against Illinois and we did it."
The last time the Illini (1-7, 0-4) struggled as much as they have this year was 1997, when Ron Turner's first team was 0-11.
Illinois, which has lost conference games by an average of 32 points, has dropped six straight games since beating I-AA Illinois State. Just two years ago, the Illini won 10 games, the Big Ten title and played in the Sugar Bowl.
"We lost it up front," Turner said. "We didn't stop them right off the bat. They are a very good, physical football team. We couldn't get anything going."
Perry, who has run for 999 yards and scored 14 times this season, became the seventh Wolverine to surpass the 3,000-yard rushing mark. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was asked why he took Perry out in the third quarter, 1 yard away from the 1,000-yard mark.
"I didn't want him to get the big head," Carr joked.
On the game's opening drive, Perry ran to his right, cut back across the field and leaped into the end zone on a 25-yard run.
"It was a well-blocked play on both sides," he said.
Perry dived over a pile of linemen for TDs from the 2 on Michigan's second drive, and from the 1 with 11 seconds left in the half.
Breaston's second punt return for a TD this season was spectacular.
"It was fun," Breaston said.
The redshirt freshman fielded a bouncing punt on the right sideline, juked linebacker Joe Bevis, cut across the field, raced down the left sideline, then darted to his right to score untouched.
"I'm kind of speechless on that," Perry said. "I don't know if you can even describe it. He shook the first guy about five times."
Michigan scored more than 50 points for the first time since beating Indiana 58-0 on Oct. 14, 2000.
"We started fast and I don't think we stalled," Navarre said.
Illinois' Chris Pazan started in place of Jon Beutjer, who missed the game with a sore back. Pazan was 11-of-23 for 100 yards with an interception. The redshirt freshman had thrown just 16 passes this season.
"My job is to get the ball into the playmakers' hands, and I didn't do that," Pazan said. "I missed some throws."
Turner was pleased with Pazan's poise.
"He handled himself very well," he said.
E.B. Halsey, who ranked seventh in the Big Ten in rushing before the game, was limited to 12 yards on eight carries. Halsey left the game in the third quarter with a right knee injury. Mark Kornfeld caught five passes for 77 yards.
Pierre Thomas ensured the Illini would not be shut out with a 1-yard run midway through the third quarter, and his 7-yard run late in the game made it 49-14.
"We were very emotional coming in, but a couple bad breaks hurt us," Illinois Kelvin Hayden said.
Safety Marlin Jackson, who left the Minnesota game with an undisclosed injury, was not in uniform Saturday. Carr said he hoped Jackson would play next week against Purdue.
Jackson's backup, Jacob Stewart, left the game in the third quarter with an injury and was carted off the field in the fourth.
|3rd Down Conversions||1-11||9-15|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-1|
|TD||12:28||CHRIS PERRY 25 YD RUN (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 71 yards.
|TD||5:24||CHRIS PERRY 2 YD RUN (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 61 yards.
|TD||7:39||STEVE BREASTON 74 YD PUNT RETURN (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)||0||21|
|TD||2:14||ANDY MIGNERY 9 YD PASS FROM JOHN NAVARRE (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 84 yards.
|TD||0:11||CHRIS PERRY 1 YD RUN (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 67 yards.
|TD||7:44||PIERRE THOMAS 1 YD RUN (JOHN GOCKMAN KICK)|
Drive info: 13 plays, 81 yards.
|TD||5:32||TIM BRACKEN 27 YD RUN (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 74 yards.
|TD||9:44||TIM MASSAQUOI 21 YD PASS FROM MATT GUTIERREZ (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 23 yards.
|TD||5:33||PIERRE THOMAS 7 YD RUN (JOHN GOCKMAN KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||1:47||JEROME JACKSON 1 YD RUN (GARRETT RIVAS KICK)|
Drive info: 10 plays, 76 yards.