Phillip Lutz, Guest Writer
Two Michigan defenders finish off a tackle. Photo//Kate Hua/Daily
The Michigan Wolverine football team defeated the Hoosiers of Indiana University on a strong second half effort. The team was rolling early, but a significant medical incident put the team in serious jeopardy.
The Wolverines received the opening kickoff, and after a couple first down throws, they were rewarded with an early touchdown by running back Blake Corum. The junior took off for a 50-yard run, giving the Wolverines a first-and-goal at the one-yard line. Corum punched the ball into the endzone on the next play. Kicker Jake Moody added the extra point, giving the Wolverines a 7-0 lead.
The Hoosiers were not able to do much on their first possession of the game. Their drive only lasted close to two minutes, only totaling three yards on six plays. They were forced to punt back to Michigan. The Wolverine offense led by sophomore quarterback J.J. McCarthy was not able to capitalize, as they punted back to Indiana after just five plays.
The Hoosiers offense was led by quarterback Connor Bazelak. Bazelak was able to move the ball steadily down the field, aided by costly penalties from the Wolverines. He capped off their 10-play scoring drive with an 11-yard touchdown to running back Josh Henderson. This tied the score at seven all mid first quarter.
During the next Wolverine drive with 4:52 remaining in the first quarter, they took a timeout. This would be a costly timeout. While the television broadcast was on a commercial break, running back coach Mike Hart collapsed on the sideline and was seen to have had a seizure. When the broadcast returned to the game, both teams were taking a knee and towels were shielding Hart as he was receiving medical attention from both teams' medics. Jim Harbaugh and Hoosier coach Tom Allen both were seen attempting to assist with calming the players and Hart.
The medics loaded Hart onto a stretcher and the cart for transport across the field. He was conscious and giving a thumbs up to his team and the fans. Hart was an assistant coach for Allen and the Hoosiers before taking the job at Michigan. Hart is the all-time leader in rushing yards for the Wolverines.
Coaches were seen consoling and hugging players on the Michigan sideline, especially Corum and sophomore running back Donovan Edwards.
The Wolverines behind McCarthy were able to move down the field with the play of grad student wide receiver Ronnie Bell and his 26-yard grab. This setup Moody for a 44-yard field goal, giving Michigan the 10-7 lead.
The Hoosiers next drive was marked with bone-headed and head scratching penalties by the Wolverines. Junior edge rusher Jaylen Harrel made a great sack to pin the Hoosiers, but then followed it up with a gesture that was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty. This gave the Hoosiers a fresh set of downs. Junior linebacker Kalel Mullings got called for pass interference, and shortly after, Hoosier wide receiver Cam Camper was called for offensive pass interference. The Hoosiers settled for a field goal, once again tying the score 10-10. The referees were calling penalties all first half that were head scratching to say the least.
Michigan defensive end Jaylen Harrel celebrates after a sack, but was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. Photo//USA TODAY Sports
The rest of the half was a punt fest by both teams as they looked out of sorts, especially the Wolverine offense. They had lost their fire, as Hart’s medical crisis may have deflated them. The Wolverine defense seemed to snap out of it faster and kept the Hoosiers contained until halftime. Michigan breathed a sigh of relief as they went into halftime tied 10-10.
The beat reporters and people close to the team said that Coach Hart was able to call the team and speak to them during halftime, reassuring them from his hospital bed nearby.
The Hoosiers received the kick after halftime and were not able to do much with it, punting the ball back to Michigan. The Wolverines started deep in their own zone at the two-yard line. McCarthy found Bell for a 14-yard completion, giving them some breathing room and a much needed first down. Sophomore wide receiver Andrel Anthony was seen with a rare appearance, catching a dart for a 17-yard pick up. Corum took the next hand off going for 18 yards, marching them into Indiana territory. Johnson finished the drive with a 29-yard touchdown reception making up for his earlier drop. Michigan led 17-10.
The Hoosiers offense stalled on the ensuing drive, going three-and-out. Michigan was able to get the redzone looking for more points, but McCarthy was intercepted by Devon Matthews, giving Indiana the ball back. Indiana was not able to capitalize on the turnover, punting back to the Wolverines.
The punt-a-thon continued for both teams until the early fourth quarter when McCarthy connected with tight end Luke Schoonmaker for a nine-yard score. This put Michigan out in front by a score of 24-10.
The Hoosiers went three-and-out on the following drive with another punt. Seeing a trend?
The Wolverines started their drive with a couple Ronnie Bell receptions for 27 yards. Michigan did not let off the gas, finding paydirt with another Johnson touchdown, this one a six-yard pass from McCarthy. With Moody’s extra point, the Wolverines finally looked the part up 31-10.
The Hoosiers next drive was not to be as they turned the ball over on downs. McCarthy and the Wolverines went into victory formation and knelt it to end the game. In post game interviews, McCarthy said they were giving one of the game balls to Coach Hart.
Harbaugh gave an update on Hart’s condition after the game, saying he was in stable condition and that Hart and his wife would be staying in Bloomington for the night for observation.
McCarthy threw for 304 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. He also added four runs totalling for 26 yards on the ground. Corum added 124 yards and a touchdown. Bell chipped in 121 yards with Schoonmaker adding 67 yards and a touchdown. The Wolverine defense racked up seven sacks on the day. They also kept the team in the game when they were needed most.
The undefeated #5 Wolverines will return home next week to face unbeaten #10 Penn State. It is a noon game and a Maize Out. This will be the first true test for the Wolverines. Which Michigan team will show up: the slow first half team or the dominant second half team? We shall see.