Michigan’s Perry, Navarre steam roll Irish

Published 3:51 pm Monday, September 15, 2003

By By SCOTT NOVAK / Niles Daily Star
ANN ARBOR -- For the first time in over a century, the University of Michigan football team shut out Notre Dame.
The No. 5 ranked Wolverines showed no mercy Saturday afternoon before a record-setting crowd of 111,726 in beating the Fighting Irish, 38-0.
The loss was the worst ever for Notre Dame in its series with Michigan.
Michigan seniors Chris Perry and John Navarre destroyed a Notre Dame defense which was one of the best in the country last season.
Perry rushed for 133 yards and finished with 176 yards in total offense. He scored four of the Wolverines' five touchdowns.
While Michigan's offense appeared to be in high gear it was the Wolverine defense that set the tone.
After an early Navarre fumble, the Michigan defense stepped up and stuffed the Fighting Irish, causing Notre Dame to go three and out.
On the ensuing punt, Michigan's Steve Breaston returned the kick 55 yards to the Notre Dame two yard line, setting up the first of Perry's four scores.
One play later Michigan had a 7-0 lead.
A Adam Finley 24-yard field goal just seconds into the second quarter extended Michigan's lead to 10-0.
The Wolverines were not through, however, as Perry made it 17-0 when he hauled in a five-yard pass from Navarre and Finley added the kick with nine minutes remaining in the half.
Michigan (3-0) appeared to be heading for another touchdown at the end of the first half when Perry was hit hard by a Notre Dame defender and fumbled the football inside the Notre Dame 10 yard line.
Regardless of how well the Notre Dame defense played at times, its offense was unable to move the ball against the Wolverines, who gave up more than 200 yards rushing against Central Michigan in its opener.
The Fighting Irish (1-1) were limited to just 79 yards in total offense in the first half.
Notre Dame finished with only 49 yards rushing for the entire contest and just 91 yards passing as Carlyle Holiday and freshman Brady Quinn were both ineffective.
The defensive stop after our first possession turnover was major. I have to take my hat off to our team. We are smart enough to understand that today was our day. Notre Dame is a great program and a great rival. We have tremendous respect for their players and coaches. I have no doubt they will come back from this."
In the third quarter, the Wolverines increased their advantage to 24-0 as Perry scored on a nine-yard run and Finley added the extra point. The scoring drive was set up by a poor Nicholas Setta punt and a 27-yard run by Perry.
Michigan would score twice more in the fourth quarter much to the delight of the Wolverine faithful, who refused to leave the stadium despite the lopsided score.
Perry's one-yard run with 12:26 to play in the game made it 31-0 after Finley's kick, while third string tailback Pierre Rembert scored on a seven-yard run with 4:24 to play.
Finley kicked the first extra point for the Wolverines, while Garrett Rivas added the final point-after-touchdown.
Michigan finished with 439 yards in total offense, including 251 through the air. Navarre was 14-of-21 for 199 yards and the touchdown in one of his best performances.
The Wolverines travel to Oregon next Saturday, while the Irish return home to take on Michigan State, a 20-19 loser to Louisiana Tech.