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The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Michigan Wolverines “Rush” Championship Trophy Home

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The Michigan Wolverines storming the football field

For the first time in the College Football Playoff era, and the first time since 1997, at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, the Michigan Wolverines won the College Football Playoff National Championship on Monday night, January 8th. After a flawless season, building a streak of 14 consecutive wins, the team scored four touchdowns and rushed for 303 yards in the final game against the also undefeated Washington Huskies to collect its 10th, as the NCAA credits, NCAA football crown and its 12th, as Michigan credits (the NCAA does not recognize Michigan’s 1932 and 1947 titles). Furthermore, a few key players from both teams stood out on the field during the game, namely Blake Corum, Donovan Edwards, J. J. McCarthy, Michael Penix, Jr., and Jalen McMillan. 

Michigan Wolverines’ running back Blake Corum was named the offensive MVP for his outstanding performance in the game. He ran for a total of 134 yards on 21 carries and marked two fourth-quarter touchdowns in the championship: the first one from 12 yards out with 7:09 left on the clock, and the second one from the 1-yard line with 3:37 left in the game, which placed the Wolverines up by 21, almost guaranteeing them the win and prompting an echoing delivery of Michigan’s fight song, “The Victors.” Corum’s sidekick and understudy, Donovan Edwards, also shone in Monday night’s championship game, running a total of 104 yards on 6 carries and tallying the first touchdowns of the game on his first two touches in the first quarter. The first was from 41 yards out, while the second was from 46, marking his season-high in rush yards and his overall best performance. Edwards’s two touchdowns were also the second- and third-longest longest touchdown runs in College Football Playoff (CFP) history, after Derrick Henry’s 50-yard touchdown in 2016. Thanks to Edwards, after only the first quarter of the game, the Wolverines were already up by 11 points, which panicked the Huskies’ fans watching, as it signified that it wasn’t going to be an easy game for them. Both Corum and Edwards, if they decide to enter the NFL Draft, have bright futures ahead of them in the league. 

Even though it wasn’t to the same extent, Wolverines’ quarterback J.J. McCarthy also had an admirable performance Monday night, throwing for 140 yards and running for 31. He also started the game off well: 3 for 4 and 55 yards. However, the Michigan quarterback went cold right after, missing four consecutive passes and preventing the team from turning a gift INT into a touchdown score at the beginning of the second half. Nevertheless, his positive stats outshine his negative ones, especially as he threw two successful passes in the fourth quarter, to Blake Corum, producing his second consecutive clutch fourth quarter—the first one in the Rose Bowl Semi-Final against the University of Alabama. 

As for the other side, Washington Huskies’ quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. struggled through a poor performance at Monday night’s game. Penix threw 27 for 51 for 255 yards and a touchdown; however, he also threw two fatal interceptions that erased all chances of him and his team holding up the championship trophy at the end. His first interception occurred at the beginning of the third quarter when his ankle was brutally stepped on, leading to a terrible decision that resulted in his pass being intercepted by Will Johnson and him subsequently limping off the field. The second interception was thrown late in the same quarter, at a crucial moment for the Huskies. Penix overthrew Ja’Lynn Polk on a deep pass, with the ball landing in the hands of Mike Sainristil instead, allowing him to then return it for 81 yards, which led to Corum’s second touchdown of the game. At this point, the Huskies were already down by two touchdowns, and with the heart-breaking interception, their fans knew that their fate was now sealed: it was their game to lose that night. The sixth-year quarterback suffered through season-ending injuries for the first four years of his college career; now with his potentially injured ankle, his NFL Draft future heavily weighs on the results of his medical exams. 

On the other hand, Huskies wide receiver Jalen McMillan produced substantial numbers on his part, despite the overwhelming circumstances with which his team was paired, including a total of six receptions for 33 yards, 9 rushing yards, and a touchdown catch from 3 yards out on fourth-and-goal with 42 seconds left in the second quarter, cutting the Wolverines’ lead to seven points at the time. McMillan’s last-minute TD revitalized the morale and energy of Huskies fans throughout the stadium, as they happily sang afterward along to the song “Who Let the Dogs Out” at halftime. Despite a couple of injuries, McMillan’s football career has been gradually rising at Washington. 

Lastly, after the game, the head coach of the Wolverines, Jim Harbaugh, was pressured to answer questions about a potential return to the NFL, to which he answered, “Like I said the other day, yeah, I hope to have a future. I hope there’s a tomorrow, a day after tomorrow, a next week, a next month, a next year.” Harbaugh was head coach of the San Francisco 49ers for four seasons before switching to his college team, the Michigan Wolverines, in 2015, at which point they were struggling, with a single goal in mind: to lead them to the top. This is exactly what he did this season, with absolutely zero losses and a championship trophy to cap it off in the end. However, now that he’s achieved this glorious landmark, questions are lingering in the air about whether it’s time for him to lead an NFL team to a Super Bowl. 

Overall, Monday night turned out to be a great game to watch for fans on both sides of the championship, as they witnessed a fierce battle between two teams that had flawlessly dominated throughout the entire football season. However, after a grand conclusion to the college season, it’s now time for fans to focus on the last few weeks of the NFL season, including the long-awaited, annual, electrifying Super Bowl.

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About the Contributor
Pablo Estua Carrillo, Sports Editor
Pablo Estua Carrillo ('25) is excited to be Sports Editor of The Echo. He mainly enjoys writing stories about sports, but he can write about any topic that presents before him. Outside of school, he runs for the THS Cross Country and Track and Field teams and he plays viola for the THS Philharmonic Orchestra. During his free time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching movies and TV shows, listening to rap, jazz, and house music, playing tennis, driving, and going to New York City.