Scheelhaase hurt, Illini shut out by Michigan

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Scheelhaase hurt, Illini shut out by Michigan

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Denard Robinson threw two touchdown passes and ran for two scores, leading No. 25 Michigan in a 45-0 win over Illinois on Saturday.

The Wolverines (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) got a scare when Robinson left the game with an undisclosed injury late in the first quarter. He missed just one-plus possessions, though, and returned to score on a 6-yard run to put Michigan up 17-0 late in the first half.

Robinson, who wouldn't elaborate on the injury after the game, ran for a 49-yard score - giving him 10,000-plus career yards of offense - on the Wolverines' first drive of the second half and tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Devin Funchess on their next possession to make it 31-0.

The Fighting Illini (2-5, 0-3) lost their starting quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase, because of an undisclosed injury in the second quarter.

Robinson was 7 of 11 for 159 yards with two TD passes, including one on his first drive to Jeremy Gallon, who turned a short toss into a 71-yard score. He ran 11 times for 128 yards, his 18th career 100-yard game on the ground, and scored on a juke-filled, 49-yard run along with a 6-yard run on a play designed to be a pass.

Scheelhaase completed two passes for 4 yards and ran six times for 34 yards, including a 23-yard gain in which he was injured when he landed face first in the turf when Jibreel Black hit him from behind. He was replaced by Reilly O'Toole, whose two turnovers in the third quarter helped Michigan pull away.

In the first half, Illinois had chances to keep it close.

Illini coach Tim Beckman chose to attempt a 50-yard field goal - instead of going for a fourth-and-4 from the Michigan 32 down by 10 points - and Taylor Zalewski missed the kick, ending the drive in which Scheelhaase was hurt. The Illini turned the ball over on downs on their next possession when running back Donovonn Young was dropped for a loss by Kenny Demens on a fourth-and-1 from the Michigan 41.

The Wolverines turned the lopsided game into a rout with 21 points in the third, turning two turnovers into TDs and forcing the Illini to lose 9 yards in the quarter.

On Illinois' first snap of the second half, O'Toole threw an interception to Demens and the linebacker returned it 13 yards to the Illini 27 to set up Robinson's perfectly lofted pass to Funchess. Toole avoided getting sacked by Jake Ryan later in the third quarter, but held onto the ball long enough for the outside linebacker to get back to him to force a fumble at the Illinois 6.

Fitzgerald Toussaint, who had 62 yards rushing on 18 carries, scored on a 2-yard run two plays later to put the Wolverines ahead 38-0.

Michigan put backup Russell Bellomy, who replaced Robinson when he was hurt, back in and he fumbled on the first drive of the fourth quarter. Bellomy handed off to Thomas Rawls up the middle and he did the rest, breaking two tackles on a 63-yard run to give Michigan a 45-0 lead later in the fourth.

Michigan got its first shutout since beating Minnesota 58-0 on Oct. 1 last season.

Just before kickoff, college football's winningest school unretired the jersey worn by former President Gerald Ford. The Wolverines allowed linebacker Desmond Morgan to wear No. 48 with a "Michigan Football Legends," patch and he made a tackle on Illinois' first play.

Michigan gave its fans a lot of reasons to cheer on a chilly, rainy day, but they were loudest when it was announced that rival Michigan State lost earlier in the day at home to Iowa. The Wolverines will host the Spartans on Saturday, hoping to snap a four-game losing streak in the series.

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As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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