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Dreisbach Sparks No. 12 Michigan Past Illinois, 20-8

September 01, 1996|From Associated Press

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Scott Dreisbach, obviously a little rusty, still has a flair for the dramatic.

Dreisbach, who led Michigan to a 4-0 record before a thumb injury ended his season in 1995, had a 72-yard touchdown run Saturday as the No. 12 Wolverines defeated Illinois, 20-8.

The opener for both teams drew 105,992 fans, Michigan's 130th consecutive home crowd in six figures.

Michigan's veteran defense also lived up to its reputation, coming up with a big goal-line stand in the third quarter. A touchdown would have given the Illini their first lead, but they had to settle for Bret Scheuplein's second field goal.

"I think a touchdown would have added to our confidence," Illinois Coach Lou Tepper said. "That was a very big goal-line stand."

In last year's opener, Dreisbach became a permanent part of Michigan lore when his TD pass to Mercury Hayes on the final play of the game lifted the Wolverines past Virginia. The Wolverines went on to a 9-4 season.

"I'm always nervous before a game," Dreisbach said. "I don't know if it's anxiousness or not knowing if I'm ready or if I have prepared well. You just don't know until there is a true test, and today was a true test."

Dreisbach was 11 for 23 passing for 117 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown to Russell Shaw that put Michigan ahead, 17-8, early in the fourth quarter.

"He's going to get better and better," Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr said. "But he's still a young man and you can imagine how nervous he was after being out nine games."

Scott Weaver was 25 for 38 for 179 yards for the Illini, who were 5-5-1 last season. Illinois got field goals of 38 and 20 yards from Scheuplein and picked up a safety when Dreisbach had to fall on Clarence Williams' fumble in the end zone.

Despite that fumble, Williams was impressive, carrying 27 times for 95 yards.

Dreisbach's touchdown run, 1 minute 59 seconds into the second quarter, was the first score of the game. It came on a broken pass play.

"I think that's the longest I've run in my career," Dreisbach said. "I didn't want somebody to come up behind me and strip the ball, so I looked back and double-checked, but nobody was there."

Dreisbach was trying to complete a 10-yard pass on an out pattern. When he was unable to spot an open receiver, Dreisbach headed upfield, broke two tackles and veered toward the Illinois sideline. He got a block from Tai Streets near midfield and chugged the rest of the way untouched.

"That was pathetic defense is what that was," Illinois nose tackle Paul Marshall said. "Defense comes down to tackling, and we didn't tackle on that play. We made the guy look like a superstar. But, to give him credit, he made a good play."

Michigan's defense, with linebacker David Bowens getting three sacks, held Illinois to 267 yards of offense, limiting the Illini to only 88 yards rushing.

Michigan has won 15 consecutive Big Ten openers and 28 of 29.

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