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Published: Sunday, 9/18/2005

Michigan rolls over Eastern

BY MARK MONROE
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Michigan s Jason Avant, right, hauls in a touchdown pass against Eastern Michigan defender
Steven Lewis from Rogers High School.
Michigan s Jason Avant, right, hauls in a touchdown pass against Eastern Michigan defender Steven Lewis from Rogers High School.
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ANN ARBOR - It took Eastern Michigan less than a quarter to realize it had run into a fuming Michigan team at the wrong time.

The Wolverines (2-1) scored four touchdowns in the first quarter and cruised to a 55-0 thrashing of Eastern Michigan before 109,511 spectators at Michigan Stadium.

A week after failing to score any points on three trips inside the red zone in a tough 17-10 setback to Notre Dame, the No. 14 Wolverines cashed in on all nine trips against the Eagles.

"We had a complete game today and we played well," said quarterback Chad Henne, who threw three touchdown passes. "We showed we could play offense and defense and score some points."

Michigan's defense held Eastern to 134 yards of total offense. The Eagles rushed for only 15 yards and had negative yardage on the ground until the game's final moments.

Henne received most of the heat for UM's failure to convert against the Irish. But in only one half against EMU (1-2), Henne was 13-of-19 for 147 yards. He hooked up with Jason Avant on two TD strikes and fullback Brian Thompson on another.

"Going through last week, I've never played like that before," said Henne, who fumbled and threw an interception inside the 20 against Notre Dame. "You just have to ignore it and move on and be more prepared. My confidence was fine. We had great field position and we took advantage of it this time."

Senior receiver Steve Breaston returned Eastern Michigan's first punt 72 yards to the Eagles' 10-yard line. Running back Max Martin, who rushed for 117 yards in his first career start, then scored on a one-yard run to make it 7-0 with just 2:58 gone in the contest.

Eastern Michigan went three-and-out on its next possession and then snapped the ball over punter Andrew Wellock's head to give Michigan the ball at the Eagles' 20-yard line.

Three plays later, Martin went in on a 10-yard run up the middle.

Michigan had possessed the ball for only 1:46 and already held a 14-0 lead just four minutes into the game.

"I liked the way we came out and took advantage of some early opportunities," said Michigan coach Lloyd Carr. "We got ahead and then we didn't slop around and make mistakes."

It took Michigan just 1:58 to score on its third possession. Henne went 4-of-5 for 44 yards through the air and connected with Avant on a 14-yard TD strike.

The Wolverines posted their fourth touchdown of the first quarter on another Henne-Avant hook up. Henne found Avant open deep down field for a 26-yard touchdown to make it 28-0 with two seconds left in the opening quarter.

"This was a difficult game due to the fact that we just couldn't find our open guys in the first few drives," said Eastern Michigan coach Jeff Genyk. "If we could have gotten a field goal, we would have settled down a bit."

Instead, Michigan posted points on six of its first seven possessions to take a 38-0 lead at the half.

Martin, who started in place of a banged-up Mike Hart, gained 84 of his yards in the first half. "It felt wonderful to get the opportunity to help the team," he said.

Backup quarterback Matt Gutierrez came in to start the second half and the offense did not miss a beat. Gutierrez opened the third quarter with a 13-play, 57-yard drive that ended in a 21-yard field goal by reserve kicker James Bloomsburgh.

"We had the game in hand and we're always looking for an opportunity to get young guys experience," Carr said. "It was a good outing for our team."

Michigan continued to add to the Eagles' misery with two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Jackson scored his fourth career touchdown on a seven-yard run and senior Alijah Bradley got his first career TD for the game's final margin.

Inside linebacker David Harris, who had three pass breakups and four tackles, said the team was prepared for the Eagles' spread offense. The Eagles top rusher was Drew Nelson, who had 19 yards. Bohnet, the starting quarterback, was limited to 118 yards through the air.

"We came out and played fast," Harris said. "We know what we are capable of. The shutout was a pride thing."

Contact Mark Monroe at:

mmonroe@theblade.com

or 419-724-6110.



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