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Long Beach Players Get Thrill--and 49-0 Beating by Michigan

September 27, 1987|DICK WAGNER | Times Staff Writer

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Cal State Long Beach found itself in another football world Saturday, far from home and way out of its league.

Used to small crowds in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn., the 49ers experienced what they called a lifetime thrill, playing before 101,714 fans in the Big Ten atmosphere of Michigan Stadium.

But also unaccustomed to playing a team of such high stature, the 49ers lost to 14th-ranked Michigan, 49-0.

"This was a lesson in football," Long Beach Coach Larry Reisbig said after his team's record dropped to 2-2.

Although the game's one-sidedness wasn't surprising, the 49ers had an early euphoric moment when they stopped Michigan's opening drive with a goal-line stand.

"We stopped them when we were fresh and they were fresh," said 49er strong safety Lane McMarthy.

But although the 49ers insisted they never got worn down, they rarely stopped Michigan again.

The Wolverines buried Long Beach with a relentless running attack, gaining 436 yards in 65 carries.

Tailback Jamie Morris, a tackle-breaking specialist who dashed and squirmed through holes opened by a huge offensive line, amassed 171 yards in 20 tries.

That offensive line, like the crowd, left a lasting impression on 49er nose tackle Nate Deaton.

"They don't hit you that hard, but they're so big they just get in your way like a wall of humanity," Deaton said.

After the goal-line stand, the 49er offense set the ineffective tone it would have throughout the game.

Quarterback Jeff Graham was erratic with his passes, and the team's early nervousness resulted in three illegal procedure penalties on one series.

The second time Michigan got the ball it drove 57 yards, with quarterback Demetrius Brown running four yards for the touchdown.

It was 7-0 but surprisingly there were only 36 seconds left in the first quarter.

But it wasn't a game much longer.

Michigan put together drives of 86 and 70 yards, with fullback Jarrod Bunch and Morris scoring to extend the lead to 21-0 at halftime.

Graham, the top-rated passer in the PCAA, completed only 5 of 17 passes for 48 yards, had 2 intercepted, lost a fumble and never got the 49ers inside Michigan's 30-yard line.

"It was completely my fault; I had a bad game," said Graham, who played with a bruised calf.

Michael Roberts provided most of the offense, running for 64 yards.

"I thought we could come back." Reisbig said of his feeling at halftime. "But they came right out and away they went."

On the first play of the third quarter, Morris ran 57 yards to the Long Beach 22 and two plays later, as Morris rested, second-string tailback Allen Jefferson scored on a 20-yard run.

Michigan (2-1), methodically added three more touchdowns, even scoring once through the air. Greg McMurty caught a pass from Brown and streaked past two 49er defenders who collided along the 53-yard touchdown route.

Although they were shut out for the first time in nine years and suffered their worst defeat since losing, 65-12, to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1956, the 49ers didn't hang their heads.

"Our kids really came to play," Reisbig said. "There was never a time when I was ashamed of our play. They can take pride in what they did. I just wish the score had been a little closer."

Long Beach linebacker Tom Caines, who had a game-high 14 tackles, clearly saw the difference in quality between the Big Ten and his league. "You can play against a PCAA team and bounce back," Caines said.

The 49ers got more than experience out of the game, coming home with $300,000 to help their financially plagued football program.

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