Game Summary - January 1, 2003
Wolverines, Perry hold off Florida
Michigan 38, Florida 30
TAMPA, Fla. -- Michigan tailback Chris Perry gave Florida fits with a bowl record four touchdowns and the Gators failed on a trick play late to secure a 38-30 win for the Wolverines in the 2003 Outback Bowl .
Pounding through the middle and taking advantage of screen and swing passes, Perry accounted for 193 yards -- 85 rushing and 108 receiving.
"I wouldn't say it was my best game, but it was one of them," he said.
His last two touchdowns lifted the Wolverines (10-3) from a two-point deficit to a 35-23 lead in the third quarter, and from there, Michigan held on.
Gators (8-5), junior Rex Grossman threw for 323 yards and two scores. But with the game on the line, the Heisman Trophy runner-up last season didn't have the ball in his hands. Instead, he was running a pass pattern.
With the Gators trailing 38-30 and moving downfield nicely with a minute left, the Gators opted for a trick play from the Michigan 27.
Freshman cornerback-turned-receiver Vernell Brown took the ball on a reverse and, under heavy pressure, lobbed a terrible pass downfield that was intercepted by Victor Hobson to seal the victory.
Grossman was the intended receiver, and coach Ron Zook explained he would have been open because the Wolverines were in man coverage.
"I OK'd the play. I was on the headset," Zook said of the call that came from offensive coordinator Ed Zaunbrecher.
"We brought it up early in the series," Zook said. ''I asked, 'Are you sure we want to do this?' We had worked on it. Sometimes it would work, sometimes it doesn't.'"
Grossman said the play worked in practice all the time.
"It's a risky call," he said. "But you can get some good rewards, too. It can go both ways."
Hobson said he was shocked to see Brown, a high school quarterback who hadn't thrown a pass all season, making the key throw of the game.
Grossman finished 21-for-41 and wasn't necessarily the best quarterback on the field. Michigan's John Navarre went 21-for-36 for 319 yards.
Nursing a 35-30 lead with five minutes left, Navarre hit Perry on a screen for a 30-yard gain to set up a field goal.
Perry has been swapped in and out with B.J. Askew as Michigan's feature back throughout his career. He finished with 1,110 yards this season but he was hardly the only player to cause Florida problems. Receiver Braylon Edwards caught four passes for
110 yards and Tight end Bennie Joppru had six catches for 80 yards. Askew, meanwhile, the team's most valuable
player this season, played the entire game even though he broke his hand in the first quarter.
"He said, "Coach, I can't catch the ball, I can't run, but I can block," explained Coach Lloyd Carr.