Matthew Silka, Staff Writer
Michigan kicker Jake Moody connects for the game winning field goal on Saturday. Photo//Associated Press.
The Maize and Blue needed every last minute to mount a late comeback against the unranked 7-4 Fighting Illini on Saturday. This came ahead of a crucial matchup against rival Ohio State to close out the regular season.
#3 Michigan battled through tough injuries and adversity to come out with the 19-17 win over Illinois, moving them to 11-0.
Here’s how they did it…
Michigan got the ball to begin the game. The Wolverines marched down the field in seven plays, cashing in on a very common Blake Corum touchdown. This was the star running back’s 18th touchdown of the season in 11 games.
Michigan’s tough defense forced a quick three-and-out to get the ball back, but they stalled out on offense, giving the ball back to Illinois.
After a huge sack on third down, Michigan forced another three-and-out, but they were unable to do anything with the ball. Illinois drove down into Michigan territory on their next possession, but got stuffed on a fourth-and-one, turning the ball over on downs.
After another poor offensive drive by the Wolverines, Illinois put together a great drive led by running back Chase Brown. However, the Wolverine defense managed to hold them to a field goal, making the score 7-3 Michigan.
Leading up to the half, Corum went down hard on a short run, injuring what appeared to be his knee. Although he walked off somewhat under his own power, it looked like he would not return to the game. Already without backup running back Donovan Edwards, Michigan needed someone to step up to secure the lead and eventually the game.
To begin the second half, Corum jogged onto the field, looking to be in good shape and good spirits. He even logged a touch on the first offensive possession for Michigan, but he sat out the rest of the game.
On the drive, however, Jake Moody was able to connect on a 46-yard field goal, increasing the lead to 10-3.
Illinois got the ball and looked like an entirely new offense in their first drive of the second half. They drove the ball nearly 70 yards before Brown found the end zone to tie the ballgame at 10.
On the next drive, Michigan found themselves in a fourth-and-six situation in no man’s land at the Illinois 40-yard line. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy seemingly found receiver Andrel Anthony open, but the ball went through Anthony’s hands and resulted in a turnover on downs.
Illinois was able to take advantage of the great field position, turning it into another touchdown and bringing the score to 17-10 their lead.
Michigan was unable to do anything on the next drive, punting the ball back to the Illini. Fortunately, the Wolverines managed to force a fumble, which led to a fourth down and an Illinois punt right back to Michigan.
Receiver and punt returner Ronnie Ball broke free on his return to the Illinois 35-yard line, giving the Wolverines great field position. Michigan had to settle for another Moody field goal though, 17-13 Illinois.
The Michigan defense came up huge once more, got the ball back, and once more got a……
You guessed it! A Moody field goal! 17-16.
With around two minutes to play, Michigan got the ball back to attempt to complete the comeback. After starting with good field position and moving 30 yards down the field, Michigan was left with a field goal attempt by Moody from 35 yards away.
The snap, the hold, and the kick is GOOD!
Money Moody cashed in his fourth field goal of the day to give the Wolverines the two point lead and the win.
The Wolverines (11-0) will travel to Columbus on Saturday to face #2 Ohio State (11-0) to determine who will win the Big Ten and almost certainly move on to the College Football Playoff. Buckle up!