ANN ARBOR - The Michigan football team claimed bowl eligibility with a thrilling 67-65 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday afternoon at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. Michigan, which fell behind in the fourth quarter, tied it late, then held on in triple-overtime with a stopped two-point conversion to seal the win.
Denard Robinson, 10-of-20 for 305 yards and three touchdowns, paced the Michigan offense to 31 points in the first half, then, following a Robinson head injury in the third quarter, Tate Forcier led the team the rest of the way with a 12-for-19 showing that covered 114 more yards and two more scores.
Michigan receiver Roy Roundtree set a new single-game record for the Wolverines hauling in 246 yards on just nine catches. He also had a pair of touchdown catches including a 4th-and-9 conversion for six and a 75-yard score on the games first play.
Illinois finished with 561 yards of offense in the overtime thriller, but came up just a handful short after Michigan bringing the house on the Fighting Illini's two-point conversion forced an incomplete pass.
"I thought we played really well up front. We had five turnovers and a lot of points. Even though our first-string quarterback left the game, we made some plays. We had some wide receivers that stepped up and made some plays at crucial times," said Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez.
In the first two overtimes the teams exchanges scores. Michael Shaw scored on a run from five-yards out on the games first overtime, then Illinois running back Mikel Leshoure scored his second touchdown run on 4th-and-goal to match it.
Illinois scored on its' first play in double-overtime. Running a wheel route that worked early in the contest, quarterback Nate Scheelhaase found Leshoure for a score. U-M answered, though, and forced triple-overtime for the game-winning series with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Junior Hemingway. The pass was deflected by Illinois defensive back Terry Hawthorne, but Hemingway found it and pulled it in for six.
In the third overtime Shaw scored his third touchdown, a hard run on the goal line, then Hemingway hauled in a Tate Forcier two-point conversion.
"We kept the folks interested but I'm really proud, it's all about the heart of our guys," Rodriguez said. "We have a lot of young guys, a lot of freshmen battling out there. I'm really proud of the way they hung in there and won at the end."
In the first half the teams combined to score 62 points in a 31-31 outburst.
Roundtree scored on a 75-yard seem route on the games first play to put Michigan up 7-0. Illinois then added two field goals to make it 7-6 after one quarter.
The second quarter saw both teams explode for three touchdowns and a field goal. Roundtree scored his second touchdown of the game to tie the score 14-14, Stephen Hopkins powered in on the ground from four-yards out and Hemingway scored on a 45-yard strike down the left sideline.
Illinois answered the scores with two touchdown runs and a touchdown pass to Ryan Lankford. Illinois pulled ahead in the fourth quarter after a Tate Forcier fumble gave Illinois the ball deep in Michigan territory.
With the win the Wolverines improve to 6-3 on the season and 2-3 in Big 10 play. Michigan travels to West Lafayette, Ind., next weekend to meet Purdue.
U-M Wins Triple OT Thriller
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