CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Michael Hart says he wants the ball all
the time. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr is happy to oblige his freshman
Hart carried 40 times for 234 yards Saturday in the Wolverines' 30-19 victory over Illinois, a game in which Michigan (No. 13 ESPN/USA Today, No. 14 AP) rallied from a halftime deficit by outscoring the Illini 20-2 in
the second half. Hart also caught three passes from Chad Henne for
"They're starting to get a lot of confidence in me," he said.
Hart ran for 127 yards and fellow freshman Max Martin added 60
yards rushing in the second half as the Wolverines kept the ball on
the ground after two interceptions of Henne led to a 17-10 halftime
Michigan threw only nine passes and rushed 39 times after the
"Our line did a great job opening up holes for Mike Hart and
Max Martin," said Henne. "They ran hard and that's what you need
The Wolverines wound up with 294 yards rushing. Henne was
14-for-27 for 114 yards and one touchdown.
Michigan (6-1, 4-0 Big Ten) won its fifth straight. The Illini
(2-5, 0-4) haven't won in the conference since the last game of the
"We played really well in the first half, offensively and
defensively. But then we kind of fell apart in the second half,"
said Illinois quarterback Jon Beutjer.
After Michigan had built a 10-0 lead, Beutjer led an 11-play,
77-yard TD drive and then the Illini defense went to work.
A 62-yard interception return by freshman Justin Harrison set up
Pierre Thomas' 1-yard TD run that gave the Illini a 14-10 lead with
7:27 to go in the half.
On the next Michigan series, a pass bounced off receiver Justin
Avant and into the hands of Illinois cornerback Kelvin Hayden, who
returned it 28 yards. Eight plays later, Jason Reda kicked a
40-yard field goal to make it 17-10.
But the second half belonged to Michigan's defense, which held
Illinois to only 98 yards rushing for the game and picked off three
of Beutjer's passes. The first, by linebacker Scott McClintock, led
to a touchdown and came three plays after Michigan was stopped on
fourth-and-3 at the Illinois 19.
"It was great timing because it was at a point when we needed
some momentum," McClintock said. "I was in my drop and it came
right to me."
A missed extra point kept Illinois ahead 17-16.
"We were still feeling good about where we were," said Illini
receiver Mark Kornfeld.
But the Illini went three and out and Michigan put together a
10-play, 86-yard drive on its next possession, with Henne running
the final 2 yards for a touchdown to give the Wolverines a 22-17
They made it 30-17 when Hart dove in from 4 yards out, reaching
his arm over the goal line after it appeared he had been stopped on
third down. Because instant replay can be used in the Big Ten this
season to review such plays, the replay official took another look
before upholding the call on the field.
"I think he didn't score, but there's not much you can do about
it," said defensive end Mike O'Brien, who was in on the tackle.
Illinois marched 74 yards after taking over with 3:30 to go, but
a Beutjer pass to the end zone on third-and-goal from the 4 was
picked off, again by McClintock, ending Illinois' hopes.
Michigan took a safety rather than punt the ball away with 3
Beutjer finished 20-of-39 for 156 yards. Thomas led the Illini
in rushing with 68 yards.
"We have to keep playing and keep fighting," Illinois coach
Ron Turner said after his team's fourth straight loss. "We did
some good things today at times, but we have to do it for 60