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ROSE BOWL / No. 1 Michigan 21, No. 8 Washington State
16 | NOTES

Black's Injury Has Cougars Black and Blue

January 02, 1998|ROBYN NORWOOD | From Staff Reports

Michael Black's long and winding road finally brought him to the Rose Bowl, but a leg injury knocked him out of the game in the first quarter Thursday, ending his day after only seven carries for 24 yards.

Black's injury was announced as a bruised right calf, but he said a nerve might have been involved and although he tried to come back, he was unable to run.

"It took me so long to come to this place, I hated sitting on the sidelines," said Black, a 1,000-yard rusher for Washington State from West L.A. College and Dorsey High whose troubled past included time served in two youth facilities for auto theft and armed robbery.

"I've been through so much in my life to get the opportunity to come play against Michigan. It took so long, and then I couldn't do it."

Black said he injured his leg on a hit early in the game, then tried to come back but hurt it again on the play when Kevin McKenzie scored on an 15-yard pass from Ryan Leaf.

"I thought maybe I just got a tear in a muscle in my calf," he said. "They tried massaging it. I tried to run, but it felt like the bone was trying to come through. It was like a nerve got torn," Black said. "I tried to come back, but I couldn't get any explosiveness."

Black's absence upset the balance of Washington State's offense.

"We lost your best offensive player--because he is our best offensive player," Leaf said. "He's the one that allows the passing game to excel. He's the one that opens it up with his running. You lose that, and you lose your offense."

Black said he hopes to recover in time for a postseason all-star game.

"I won't need surgery, but they said treat it with hot and cold. I've got to get it ready so I can play in the Shrine game."


For a long while after the game, Ray Jackson sat on Washington State's bench, his elbows on his knees, his head bowed and both hands on the helmet that was still on his head as a dozen photographers snapped away.

Jackson, a senior cornerback from Santa Ana Mater Dei, was called for a crucial pass-interference penalty in the second quarter and then gave up a 53-yard touchdown pass play trying to cover Tai Streets.

"It's hard for me. I feel responsible on the first play for a touchdown," he said. "Tomorrow I'm sure I'll wake up feeling sad when I read the papers.

"I commend Michigan. The did a great job. We killed ourselves. We beat ourselves.

"It's like an empty feeling, like somebody stole your bike or your ice cream cone."

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