Michigan Holds Off A Pesky Group Of Eagles

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Mike Hart was embraced on the sidelined by teammates and coach Lloyd Carr in the first quarter, when the public-address announcer told the crowd he was Michigan's career rushing leader.
"It was weird because you're still focused on the game," Hart said after the Wolverines beat Eastern Michigan 33-22 Saturday. "We didn't have the game in hand."
In fact, Michigan wasn't in control until late in the third quarter in a game that provided flashbacks for some to its season-opening loss.
Hart ran for 215 yards and matched a career high with three touchdowns to help the Wolverines (4-2) win their fourth straight since Appalachian State's stunner and Oregon's rout.
But their latest victory didn't come easy.
The Eagles (2-4) opened the second half by recovering an onside kick and scoring a TD to pull within two points. Instead of attempting a 2-point conversion with a chance to tie, they had an extra-point kick blocked and the game quickly turned.
"We were going to go for 2 there, but we just wanted to keep the positive momentum going," Eastern Michigan coach Jeff Genyk said. "We thought the game would probably get into the 30s and so we wanted every point."
Michigan pulled away by scoring 17 points in just under 4 minutes to take a 33-14 lead.
"I honestly wasn't worried," Hart insisted.
Hart needed 33 yards to break Anthony Thomas' record of 4,472 yards rushing, and he did on Michigan's second drive.
The senior surpassed the mark fittingly with shifty moves that have helped him become the nation's active leader with 4,655 yards rushing. Hart broke Thomas' record by making a defender miss in the backfield and picking up 14 yards.
"That's why he's an All-American and some of the tacklers aren't," Genyk said.
Thomas, who plays for the Buffalo Bills, set the previous record at Michigan from 1997-2000 and was unaware the mark was no longer his.
"I'm happy for him," Thomas told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from Buffalo. "Records are made to be broken, and he's got a chance to put it out there pretty far because they give him the ball a lot.
Hart finished with 22 carries in just less than three quarters, giving him 929 in his career to break another one of Thomas' records.
Hart also became the first Wolverine to run for at least 100 yards in six straight games to start a season. Jamie Morris surpassed the milestone in the final six games of his career in 1987.
Hart had 200 yards rushing for the fifth time, extending his school record.
His second and third scores -- from 24 and 17 yards -- gave Michigan a 19-point lead over the Eagles of the Mid-American Conference.
"As long as we keep winning, I'll be happy," he said. "I don't want to lose another game."
Michigan is at the midway point of its season, and has tests in the next two weeks against Purdue and at Illinois.
Chad Henne was 17-of-26 for 195 yards with a TD and two interceptions against the Eagles.
Adrian Arrington had six catches for a career-high 102 yards and a score, playing in place of standout Mario Manningham, who was not in uniform. Carr would not say why Manningham didn't play.
"That's between Mario and I," Carr said. "When you're in your third year in college, you're not a kid anymore.
"He is a great kid and is very talented, but he does not help us when he's not at the games."
Carr said both Manningham and backup running back Brandon Minor would face the Boilermakers, but was unsure how many of his banged-up players -- especially on the offensive line -- would play them.
Eastern Michigan's Andy Schmitt completed 15 of 28 passes for 108 yards with an interception. Schmitt had 41 yards rushing, including a 10-yard TD that made it 16-14 early in the third.
After Terrance Taylor blocked the extra point, Michigan handed the ball off to Hart on three straight plays -- putting him over the 100-yard mark -- and he ended the drive by running to the left and cutting back on a 24-yard score.
Hart ran for 61 yards on the first play of Michigan's next drive, setting up K.C. Lopata's second field goal. Lopata replaced Jason Gingell, who made just three of nine kicks over the first five games of the season, and the senior kicked field goals for the first time in college.
"The fair thing to do was to give K.C. a shot," Carr said.


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