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White’s Kick Hits Crossbar as Illinois, Michigan Tie, 3-3

From Times Wire Services

Illinois got a bad bounce and had to settle for a 3-3 tie with Michigan Saturday.

With Chris White attempting a 37-yard field goal in the final seconds, Michigan defender Dieter Heren got a hand on the ball. It hit the crossbar and bounced the wrong way for the Illini.

“It felt good when I hit it, but obviously it got tipped,” said White, who added that he could hear the block. But when the ball sailed toward the posts anyway, he thought he still had a chance.

White, who earlier kicked a 36-yard field goal to tie the score in the third quarter, said there was no problem with the snap or the hold on the final kick.

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“I think I did what I had to do,” he said. “I’m really down, but I don’t worry that it was all my fault.”

Said Heren: “I got a little excited that I got a piece of it.” But when he saw the ball in the air, he thought, “Oh, no.”

Michigan seemed to be in control on the previous drive, moving on the ground from its 20 to the Illinois nine before fullback Gerald White fumbled and the Illini’s Bob Sebring recovered.

“Our offense would have won this game if we had not turned the ball over,” Michigan Coach Bo Schembechler said. “If we could have shut down their running game a little better, they wouldn’t have gotten the field goal that they got.”

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After the key Michigan turnover, Illinois quarterback Jack Trudeau drove his team into position for White’s final field-goal attempt.

The game left Illinois and Michigan tied with 3-1-1 records in the Big Ten. Overall, the Wolverines are 6-1-1, the Illini 4-3-1.

“I’ve never felt worse after a football game--I’m just sick,” Illinois Coach Mike White said. “They seemed ecstatic and I’m devastated, but our kids are resilient and they’ll be back, ready to play against Iowa.”

The teams played a scoreless first half, with White missing a 43-yard field goal and Michigan’s Mike Gillette missing from 39 yards.

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Gillette put the Wolverines ahead in the third quarter, when he kicked a 49-yard field goal, but White evened the score with his 36-yard kick later in the period.

Michigan’s final drive, which consumed nearly seven minutes before the critical fumble, was set up by a tough defensive performance. With Illinois facing third and eight at the Michigan 32, Mike Hammerstein smashed Trudeau to the turf for a nine-yard loss that forced the Illini to punt.

Illinois, playing before a Memorial Stadium crowd of 76,397, topped Michigan in nearly every key area of offense. Trudeau completed 27 of 36 passes for 238 yards, and the Illini gained 130 yards rushing--just 2 short of the usually hard-running Wolverines.

FO Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh (4) is sacked by Illinois’ Alec Gibson during 3-3 tie Saturday.

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