Ronnie Bell rings up 'tough plays' in career game for Wolverines
Ann Arbor — The stat line for Michigan receiver Ronnie Bell this season looks like this: 37 catches, 621 yards, zero touchdowns.
In the Wolverines’ 44-10 victory over Michigan State on Saturday at Michigan Stadium, Bell had nine catches for 150 yards. And no touchdowns. Michigan has 18 receiving touchdowns this season and its leading receiver doesn't have one.
“He doesn’t have a touchdown yet?” Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson said looking dumbfounded after the game. “That’s weird. I didn’t even notice that.”
But Patterson found the silver lining.
“I think he had 150 today so just as far as his production and play-making abilities, that makes up for not having a touchdown,” Patterson said, still puzzled by Bell not having a touchdown. “I didn’t even know that. Wow.”
Bell said his teammates rib him for not having one yet.
“It hurts every time,” Bell said, laughing, “but it’s all right. I’m going to get in there.”
He came as close as anyone could get at Penn State. On fourth down on what would been the game-tying touchdown, Bell dropped the ball in the end zone. There were some on various social media platforms that cruelly singled out Bell after the 28-21 loss. He was visibly despondent, with tears in his eyes after the game.
“The support I got from my family, my friends, this team, it was unreal and it’s a blessing,” said Bell, who was speaking for the first time since the Penn State loss. “They all picked me up. I owed these seniors big time, and I’m glad I was able to go out there and do that (against MSU).”
Bell had seven catches for 118 yards in the first half. Michigan had perhaps its best drive of the season in the second quarter when it marched 98 yards on 12 plays. On back-to-back plays, Bell had an 18-yard catch then a 9-yard reception. Tight end Nick Eubanks capped the drive with a 5-yard touchdown reception.
“He had seven (catches) in the first half, all big plays and all over the field, bubbles and yards after the catch,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said of Bell. “Running physical and tough on the boundary, not looking to step out of bounds, over the middle, right in there making the tough plays and catches. Blocked really well, too. A lot of good blocks by Ronnie when he didn’t have the ball. He just played really good and tough. He’s a real football player.”
On Michigan's next drive, Bell had a 42-yard reception that put the Wolverines at Michigan State's 11-yard line.
“There was something special about the vibes that we had today with the way Shea was throwing the ball in warm-ups,” Bell said. “Guys was running hard. Everybody was playing so hard and we just executed at a high level.”