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Michigan shuts down Wisconsin in second half in Big Ten opener

Sep 23, 2006 - 7:27 PM ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Ticker) -- Michigan's defense and special teams gave Chad Henne plenty of opportunities to shake off some errant passes.

Henne overcame three interceptions to toss two touchdowns to favorite target Mario Manningham as the sixth-ranked Wolverines defeated Wisconsin, 27-13, in the Big Ten Conference opener for both teams.

Henne completed 18-of-25 passes for 211 yards and Manningham had seven receptions for 113 yards for the Wolverines (4-0, 1-0 Big Ten), who had a 23-game winning streak in conference openers end with a 23-20 setback in Madison last year.

"There's no cornerback who can match him in straight-ahead speed," Henne said of Manningham. "And if they take him away by doubling on him, we'll have either Adrian (Arrington) or Steve (Breaston) open."

Manningham's emergence as a major factor in the passing game also will help Michigan's ground attack.

"It's great because those safeties can't sit in the box all day," running back Mike Hart said. "They have to worry about Mario over there. And Adrian Arrington and Steve Breaston are in the mix. Defenses have to be prepared for them. They can't just sit there and stop the run."

The Wolverines limited the Badgers to 248 total yards - just 113 after the break, nearly all in the final five minutes with the result not in doubt. Wisconsin did not pick up a first down in the second half until just 4 1/2 minutes remained.

Michigan's defensive performance impressed Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema.

"I don't think Michigan did anything differently from a defensive standpoint than we thought they were going to do," he said. "We know they have good players and a lot of times good players with good coaches just line up and do what they do best. That's what they were able to do for four quarters."

With the game tied at 10-10 and 6:28 left in the third quarter, Henne overthrew Manningham in the end zone and was picked off for a second time by Badgers cornerback Allen Langford, a Detroit native.

But the Wolverines forced a three-and-out, and Henne found Manningham for a 38-yard touchdown down the right sideline with 3:11 to play in the period. It was the sophomore's fifth TD catch in two games.

"Henne made some great throws in the game, but that one on 3rd-and-5 was the biggest play of the game," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "It was a slant-and-go. If he doesn't catch that, we have to punt."

The interceptions did not even bother Carr.

"I'll accept two of them and the third we should have caught the ball," Carr said. "I think Chad made the best throw of his career on the run when he hit Arrington on our third touchdown drive."

Early in the fourth quarter, Steve Breaston returned a punt 26 yards to the Wisconsin 33, and Hart scored on a five-yard run four plays later for a 24-10 cushion. Garrett Rivas added some insurance with a 32-yard field goal with 5:29 to play.

John Stocco, who scored the winning touchdown on a four-yard sneak with 24 seconds left last year, went 22-of-42 for 236 yards and a touchdown for the Badgers (3-1, 0-1). He was sacked four times.

"We talked all week about making it a four-quarter game," Stocco said. "We started off well and finished well but we stalled in the middle. We have to figure out what happened."

Barely three minutes into the game, Henne threw a pass off the hands of Manningham in Wisconsin territory that Langford intercepted. Stocco confidently moved the Badgers down the field, completing the drive with a short pass to P.J. Hill that the running back took and ran 29 yards for a score.

"They came out and executed pretty well as far as moving the ball up the field (on the first scoring drive)," Michigan defensive end LaMarr Woodley said. "Our main thing was to adjust to them, feel them out. Once we got that good feeling we started playing together."

Hill, who came into the game averaging a Big Ten-best 138.3 rushing yards, had 23 yards on his first two carries and only 31 the rest of the way.

"They just kept coming," Hill said. "We didn't execute as well as we're supposed to. They played their game but we didn't play enough of our game. Michigan has a very good defense but it prepped me for what to expect in the Big Ten."

In the final minute of the opening quarter, Henne was stopped short on a 4th-and-1 sneak at the Wisconsin 19. But Michigan forced a three-and-out, and after a 29-yard punt return by Breaston, Henne found Manningham in the back of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown. A flag had been thrown on Breaston's punt return, but the officials picked it up, angering Badgers coach Bret Bielema.

Wisconsin took a 10-7 lead on a 39-yard field goal by Taylor Melhaff with 5:37 remaining in the second quarter. The Badgers stopped the Wolverines on their next drive, but Zach Hampton fumbled the ensuing punt when hit by Darnell Hood, and Turner Booth recovered for Michigan at the 18, leading to a tying 31-yard field goal by Rivas with 2:45 to play in the half.

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