You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Oct 31, 2009 : 9:44 p.m.

One play changed the entire tone of the Michigan-Illinois football game

By Michael Rothstein

It started with a replay, ended with a replay and the result changed the trajectory of the Michigan-Illinois football game Saturday.

Wide receiver Roy Roundtree thought he was in the end zone, the culmination of a 76-yard pass play from freshman quarterback Tate Forcier that would have given Michigan a two-possession lead in the third quarter.

Then came a review from upstairs and the official found Roundtree down before the goal line, giving Michigan what seemed to be a sure opportunity for points in Illinois’ 38-13 win over the Wolverines.

“You can’t really look back,” Roundtree said of the play. “They always say run and look ahead. I thought I had it, you know, but challenged play, and I was down at the 1.”

Terry Hawthorne ran Roundtree down and caught him just before he crossed into the end zone.

Illinois coach Ron Zook said it might be the play of the year for the Illini.

“Holy smokes,” Zook said. “Terry has a lot of speed, and I don’t think he realizes how fast he is. We’ve talked about letting the plays come to you, and Terry made an unbelievable play.

“A lot of guys would’ve quit, but Terry didn’t quit, and he made the play of the game, maybe even the play of the year.”

Hawthorne’s play made Michigan try to punch it in from the 1-yard line, but Michigan ran Carlos Brown three times and Brown was stuffed three times. Then Michigan put in Brandon Minor to go for it on fourth down, and the senior was denied, his elbow touching down just before the goal line after a replay review.

Sitting 99 yards from the Michigan end zone, Illinois then systematically moved down the field for the first time since the opening possession of the game to score and take a 14-13 lead.

“Juice Williams got alive a little bit,” Michigan associate head coach/secondary coach Tony Gibson said. “They had us off balance with the run and the pass and we couldn’t respond.

“We had an opportunity to go up 20-7, I think, and then they went 99 yards, got all the momentum and we couldn’t get it back.”

Illinois then blew the game open, using Hawthorne’s play as its motivating factor.

Said Hawthorne: “It turned the whole game around.”

Michael Rothstein covers University of Michigan sports for He can be reached at (734) 623-2558, by e-mail at or follow along on Twitter @mikerothstein.



Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 1:16 p.m.

Hey guys,here's a POSITIVE to take from the Ill. game(and the other Big Ten games we lost I might add).Maybe all the losing will serve as ammonition/revenge down the road when we get BETTER b/c lets be honest....this team is STRUGGLING!!!So this will leave a bitter taste in their mouths and in 3 or 4yrs., we will pay ALL these Big Ten teams back!!(I gotta take SOMETHING positive from this season and last yr.)GO BLUE!!!


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 11:53 a.m.

trublue, I'm with you. I'd LOVE for him to prove me wrong and turn this thing around. Beat with toughness against Wisconsin and OSU. Hell, BEAT Wisconsin and OSU! We are Michigan, after all. If he can PROVE that he can handle this adversity and get the team to perform in the next 3 weeks, that would be a great scenario, imo. He needs to prove that he is worthy of our team, not vice versa.


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 10:18 a.m.

As I was watching the game and thought to myself, what a sorry state we are in. I just haven't given up on our team yet. Especially when I saw USC and their freshman QB get dismembered by the Ducks. It was so hard to watch an Illinois team with a one dimensional QB and our defensive end get sucked in time and time again. Is it coaching or just players that don't get it? I would have had a spy on Juice every play. If he is faking a hand off, you can tackle him every play. It was slow motion and Juice would pull the ball and run around end for another big gain. Meanwhile our defensive end was chasing ghosts. Probably why I am not a coach! I don't get it either. 1st and goal at the one, who called those plays. Helen Keller school for the blind could have scored against Illnois! Bo is doing flips in his grave. Oh well, Michigan always did have a knack for breaking your heart. But this year is almost tooooooo much toooooooo watch. Dan in Georgia.

Blue in the 614

Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 9:27 a.m.

I agree 100% with your comments az. I am seriously doubting RR's worthiness to be here. He just doesn't seem to epitomize any of the character traits and leadership strengths of previous UM greats (and yes I include LC in this group).


Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 8:45 a.m.

One play changed the game because this team is mentally weak and has been for two years. When something goes wrong, it snowballs into a disaster. That comes from the top. Say what you will about Lloyd Carr, the one thing he wasn't was weak. When his team lost to App St and Oregon, that team rallied around their coach and started winning some games despite Chad Henne being out. They didn't need the 'perfect' array of talent to win...they just had to want it. Carr NEVER lost that team. RR has a chance to show that he can stop the bleeding over the next three weeks and show great toughness. I think these next three games should determine whether he is worthy to wear the block M again next season. Michigan should beat Purdue (and FIRST year coach Danny Hope) next week, and compete to the bitter end against Wisconsin and OSU. Anything short of that and he doesn't deserve to lead at our great university.

Man in the Mirror

Sun, Nov 1, 2009 : 6:39 a.m.

Those who stay will be champions. Eventually years from now for Michgan. Those who stayed thus far will not be champions like those who left either. Big ups to Mr. Hawthorne. Way to "stay" and become a "champion" over Rich Rodriquez and "his" Michigan Wolverines.