Banged Up Henne Leads Michigan

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Chad Henne slowly walked to an idling bus, getting patted on the back by Michigan fans after another gutsy performance.
With a banged-up shoulder, balky knee and tweaked ankle -- all on the right side of his body -- Henne tied a school record with four touchdown passes to lead the Wolverines to a 28-24 win Saturday over Michigan State.
"You've got to keep fighting," he said.
Before leaving East Lansing with his right shoulder wrapped, Henne said the comeback victory didn't make him feel any better physically. But his play lifted spirits for his teammates and coaches because it kept Michigan's turnaround alive.
The 13th-ranked Wolverines (8-2, 6-0 Big Ten) have won eight straight since opening the season with a stunning loss to Appalachian State and a rout by Oregon. But to truly salvage the season, the Wolverines know they have to win at Wisconsin this week and at home against Ohio State.
"We knew these last three games were going to make or break our season," said Michigan running back Mike Hart, who missed 2 1/2 games after an early season injury. "One down, two to go.
"We know Wisconsin can run the ball, play defense and they're tough to beat at home. After that, obviously it won't be hard to get up emotionally again because it'll be O-State."
Henne was on and off the field two weeks ago at Illinois, where he led the Wolverines to a win, then he rested for a game to get ready for the Spartans.
Coach Lloyd Carr said Henne didn't throw the ball in practice last week, but threw some to a trainer Thursday.
The senior quarterback is Michigan's career leader with 84 TD passes, 789 completions and 9,246 yards and is 32-12 as a starter.
But some will never let it be forgotten that Henne, like the rest of his classmates, is 0-6 against Ohio State and bowl opponents.
"He's never received the credit that he deserves," Carr said. "What he did a couple of weeks ago at Illinois and what he did today, as a coach I can only admire and respect.
"Every quarterback I've had have been tough guys, but there ain't anyone tougher than Henne."
When Henne came to Michigan, he was expected to back up Matt Gutierrez as a freshman. But Gutierrez hurt his shoulder during training camp and Henne was thrown on the field.
He threw four TDs in his first game against Michigan State, helping the Wolverines rally from a 17-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter and win in triple overtime.
One of Braylon Edwards' three TDs that day was remarkably similar to Mario Manningham's game-winning score Saturday.
"It looked like the same play," Michigan running back Mike Hart said. "Chad threw it to the corner of the end zone and Mario leaped back and caught it, just like Braylon did."
Michigan State (5-5, 1-5) has lost five of six after starting the season strong in Mark Dantonio's first season as coach.
It closes the regular season at Purdue and against Penn State, needing to win at least one game to play in a bowl for the first time since 2003.
Dantonio set the Spartans' focus on Michigan shortly after he was hired a year ago, putting clocks in the football facility counting down the time left before the game. Now, he has to build the team back up.
"At points like this, we'd better be strong leaders: our coaches, seniors and myself," Dantonio said.
Receiver Devin Thomas said Dantonio's postgame message was quick and clear.
"He just told us, `Keep your head up so we can bounce back,"' Thomas said.


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