Ron Johnson's Record Setting Game in 1968 | gobluefootballhistory.com Michigan Football Firsts | Michigan Wolverine Football History

November 16, 2018 Ron Johnson – Two Records Turn 50

Posted on November 15, 2018 by Barry Gallagher

Part I. Wolverine Football History: Two Ron Johnson Records Turn 50.

The Game of a Lifetime:

On this day in 1968, running back Ron Johnson set Michigan’s single-game rushing record against Wisconsin. Yes, Ron Johnson’s record turns 50 today. The amazing Ronald Adolphis Johnson ran over, around, and through the Badger defense on a muddy-mess of a field that day.

When it was all over, Johnson had rushed for 348 yards on 31 carries. He had one carry for minus one yard. So, Ron’s “net” yardage for the day was “only” 347 yards. Wow – think about that for a minute. He averaged almost 11.2 yards per carry (11.19) and also caught 2 passes for another 25 yards. Oh, by the way, Ron Johnson also returned one kickoff for 15 yards that day. When it was all done, he totaled 387-yards in all-purpose offense. Oops, I almost forgot to mention that he also scored five rushing touchdowns (35, 67, 1, 60, and 49 yards). Yes, fifty-years later, Ron Johnson is still the only Wolverine to rush for 347-yards in one game and score five rushing touchdowns – amazing!

Michigan won the game (34-9) in front of a rain-soaked crowd of 51, 117. It was the last home game of Ron Johnson’s stellar career at Michigan. The decisive win pushed Michigan’s record to 8-1-0 and kept them undefeated in the Big Ten at 6 wins and 0 losses. It was the perfect set-up for the season ending game at Ohio State on November 23, 1968. Unfortunately, Michigan lost the last game to the hated Buckeyes and finished with a final record of 8 wins and 2 losses. The Wolverines ended the conference season in second place with a final record of 6 wins and 1 loss.

Yes, it’s hard to believe that the amazing record of Ron Johnson turns 50 today. Personally, I believe that Ron’s record-setting day in 1968 was the greatest single game performance by Wolverine – ever! What is even harder to fathom is that Ron Johnson passed away seven days ago. He had been battling Alzheimer’s Disease for many years. Sadly, he finally lost the fight on Saturday, November 10, 2018.

Ron Johnson All-American 1968 | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Ron Johnson left Ann Arbor with thousands of yards and enough honors to fill a very large trophy case. He was an All-American in 1968. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library at The University of Michigan.

A Great Player and an Even Better Man:

The bottom line is simple – Ron Johnson had a stellar career at Michigan. He was a record setting player who also achieved some significant “firsts” at Michigan. He was the first African-American player to be a Captain, Most Valuable Player, All-Conference and All-American in a single season. Oh yes, he was also the first African-American player to be a two-time team MVP (1967 and 1968).

The best way to summarize Ron Johnson’s illustrious Michigan career is to document some more of the important “firsts” that connect him to Michigan Football.

  • Ron Johnson is the first Michigan back to rush for 270 yards in a single game. (Navy in 1967).
  • Johnson is the first, and only, Michigan Man to rush for 347 yards in a single game! (A 34-9 win over Wisconsin on November 16, 1968).
  • Ron Johnson is the first man to score 5 touchdowns in one game in the “modern era.” He scored 5 rushing touchdowns against Wisconsin in 1968.
  • Johnson is the first, and only, Michigan running back to rush for 19 touchdowns in a single season. (1968)
  • Ron Johnson was the first Michigan Man to record over 1,300 yards in a single season in 1968. He finished with 1,391 in that record setting season. He was also the first man to average over 130 yards per game in a single season in 1968. (He finished with an average of 139.1 yards per game in 1968.)
  • Johnson was the first Maize and Blue running back to record at least 4 games of more than 150 yards in a single season in 1968. (Note – he was also the first man to record two 200-yard games in one season in 1968 and also the first to total over 300 yards in one game.)
  • Ron Johnson was the first Wolverine to record 2,400 rushing yards in a career from 1966 to 1968. (He finished with 2,417.)
  • Johnson was the first Maize and Blue running back to record ten 100-yard games in a career from 1966 to 1968.

Yes, Ron Johnson was a great player and a better man. He quietly waited his turn, then, went on to enjoy a record-setting Michigan Football career. Today is a wonderful day to appreciate one of the greatest individual performances in Michigan and college football history.

Ron Johnson moved on to a successful career in the National Football League and then entered the business world. He continued his successful journey as a family man, businessman and model citizen. To read more about Ron Johnson’s amazing life, click on the link below. Yesterday, I donated $40.00 to the Alzheimer Fight in honor of the number that Ron Johnson made famous at Michigan. I encourage you to do the same.

If you are a prayerful person, you can say a final prayer for Ron and his family today. Please take a moment to appreciate the life of Ron Johnson. He was a true Michigan Man who honored his family and his alma mater with an amazing life. May Ron Johnson Rest in Peace! Go Blue!



Part II. Trivia Question of the Day – November 15, 2018:

Which Michigan running back owns the record for most rushing yards in a game against Indiana?

Part II. Trivia Answer of the Day – November 15, 2018:

Denard Robinson, although not a “true” running back, holds the record for most rushing yards in a game against Indiana. Denard ran for 217-yards (including two touchdowns) on only 19 carries on October 2, 2010. He also threw for 277-yards and three touchdowns. His efforts helped the Wolverines win a shootout in Bloomington. Final score: Michigan 42 – Indiana 35.

Part III. Trivia Question of the Day – November 16, 2018

How many times has Michigan been rated as the fourth-ranked football team heading into a game against Indiana?




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