Michigan coach Lloyd Carr was trying to be kind, but when Hawaii scored two second-half touchdowns, he beckoned Anthony Thomas from the bench.
Thomas, who rushed for 104 yards and three touchdowns in the first half and didn't expect to play any more, went back into the game and promptly ripped off an 80-yard scoring run to punctuate the 15th-ranked Wolverines' 48-17 victory Saturday over winless Hawaii.
"They (coaches) told me I would sit out the second half. I put my hat on and kind of got relaxed, was chewing gum and drinking water when they told me I had to go back in again," Thomas said.
Carr, who substituted freely after the Wolverines (9-3) went up 41-3 early in the third quarter, said he grew concerned when the Rainbows scored twice to make it 41-17 early in the final quarter.
"Anytime you sub early, which we did near the end of the second quarter, you take a chance to let a team get back," Carr said. "And you can get beat. That's why people don't do it."
"I went back to him (Thomas) because they got the points down to where there was 10 minutes in the game, and if we turn it over and they get it back on an onsides kick, well ... "
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to Tai Streets in the first half as Michigan went ahead 35-3.
The Wolverines kept their hopes of landing a good bowl berth intact, and extended the Rainbows' losing streak to 18 games, currently the longest in the nation.
Carr said he wasn't concerned with the margin of victory.
"I don't care about the bowl (picture). I wanted to gain control of the game so I could play as many kids as we could," he said.
Hawaii's 0-12 record matches college football's worst single-season mark, by Colorado State in 1981.
"Anytime a team goes through a season without a win, it's a ral hard thing for the coaches and players," Carr said. "They can be proud; they came out and played hard."
| Michigan running back Anthony Thomas runs off the block of wide receiver Marcus Knight in the first quarter. (AP) |
Hawaii coach Fred vonAppen said: "We showed spasms of good play. They didn't cash it in although there were plenty of opportunities to do that during the longest season I've ever been through."
Thomas finished with 13 carries for 183 yards. Brady, replaced by freshman Drew Henson late in the first half, completed 9-of-10 passes for 142 yards. Streets had five catches for 90 yards.
After falling behind 3-0 six minutes into the game, Michigan, a 38-point favorite, scored on its next five possessions.
Thomas began the onslaught when he sprinted 38 yards for a touchdown with five minutes left in the opening quarter.
The Wolverines scored again two minutes later, after a 16-yard punt by Chad Shrout gave them the ball at the Hawaii 42. Brady hit Streets for a 28-yard TD play four plays later and the rout was on.
Thomas scored on runs of 4 and 16 yards early in the second quarter, then Brady connected with Streets again on a 6-yard scoring pass 4:51 before halftime.
Henson scored the next Wolverines' touchdown when he scrambled 34 yards early in the third quarter.
The Rainbows' scoring came on Shrout's 17-yard field goal in the first quarter, Dan Robinson's 22-yard TD pass to Eleu Kane late in the third, and Jauron Pigg's 1-yard run in the fourth.
Robinson completed 24-of-51 for 328 yards, much of the yardage coming after the game was out of hand. Dwight Carter had seven catches for 146 yards in the loss.
The Wolverines, coming off a 31-16 loss to Ohio State that cost them a Rose Bowl berth, were playing for just the second time in Hawaii. Michigan downed the Rainbows 27-10 in 1986, which also was the last time that the Wolverines hadn't closed the regular season against Ohio State.
Hawaii, which has won just five games in three years under vonAppen, gave up a total of 191 points in the final four games of this season.
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