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To Fargas: Here's Mud in Your Eye

October 20, 1998|DAVID WHARTON

Maybe El Nino deserves some credit for Justin Fargas' break-out performance.

Maybe all the rain that fell last winter prepared the former Notre Dame High star for his first significant action as a Michigan Wolverine.

The freshman tailback came into the game Saturday against Northwestern and, amid a drenching storm, proved to be a true mudder by rushing for 120 yards and carrying his team to a 12-6 victory.

Not only did Fargas account for nearly half of Michigan's offensive plays and yardage, he carried 31 times without contributing to the team's five fumbles.

"Justin Fargas was one of the real bright spots," Michigan Coach Lloyd Carr told the Detroit Free Press. "There isn't any question that we needed a guy who could run with the football aggressively without turning it over.

"In those conditions, that kid showed a lot."

Fargas graduated from Notre Dame as one of the top prospects in the nation but has played sparingly this season, carrying for 71 yards before the Northwestern game.

Carr called for him after Michigan's other running backs succumbed to injury and turnovers. Fargas said he wasn't worried about holding onto the ball.

"That's just something I concentrate on in practice," he said. "So when I play, it just comes naturally."

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Another running back from the region, Wilbert Smith, helped Murray State to a 28-21 victory over Eastern Kentucky.

The former Montclair Prep star carried 13 times for 75 yards and scored on two short runs to help the Racers (5-2, 3-1) remain in contention for the Ohio Valley Conference title.

Smith, a senior who shares backfield duties with Justin Bivins, came into the game as the conference's seventh-ranked rusher with 236 yards on 47 carries.

*

Things aren't going quite so well for Dante Clay.

Clay was a standout running back at North Hollywood two years ago. He attended an East Coast prep school last season to bolster his grades before enrolling at Hofstra this fall.

Playing behind two juniors, the freshman has appeared in only two games for the Flying Dutchmen, carrying 17 times for 97 yards and two touchdowns.

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