U of M Betters The Irish
(ANN ARBOR, MI) – Sophomore quarterback Denard Robinson scored on a two-yard rush with 27 seconds remaining to give the University of Michigan football team a 28-24 victory over the Fighting Irish on Saturday (Sept. 11) at Notre Dame Stadium. For the second season in a row, the Wolverines mounted a comeback in the final minute over the Irish, this time behind the legs and arms of Robinson, who accounted for 502 of the team’s 532 yards of total offense, finishing with 258 yards rushing on 28 carries and 244 yards passing (24-for-40) and one touchdown.
Robinson is only the ninth quarterback in FBS history to gain more than 200 yards passing and 200 yards rushing in the same game. He also scored on an 87-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, the longest rushing touchdown in the history of Notre Dame Stadium, the second-longest run all-time by an opponent against Notre Dame and the sixth-longest scoring play from scrimmage in Michigan history.
Fifth-year senior linebacker Jonas Mouton led the way on defense with 13 stops, while sophomore safety Jordan Kovacs finished with 10. Each also recorded an interception in the game.
Notre Dame marched down the field on the opening possession of the game, capped off by a one-yard sneak from quarterback Dayne Crist to give the Fighting Irish an early 7-0 advantage.
Michigan took advantage of an early Notre Dame miscue, as Mouton intercepted a pass from Notre Dame backup quarterback Tommy Rees, giving the Wolverines prime field position inside the Notre Dame 35-yard line. On the very next play, Robinson faked a run left and hit redshirt sophomore receiver Roy Roundtree, who was wide open in the seam for a 31-yard touchdown, knotting the score at 7-7.
A few possessions later, freshman tailback Stephen Hopkins scored on a one-yard touchdown run in his first career play as a Wolverine, putting Michigan in front, 14-7. Robinson and junior slot receiver Martavious Odoms connected on three pass plays during the sequence, combining for 51 of the drive’s 65 yards, including a 31-yard pass that set up Hopkins’ score.
After back-to-back first downs by Notre Dame tailback Armando Allen midway through the second quarter, redshirt sophomore cornerback J.T. Floyd picked off a pass from Notre Dame’s other backup quarterback, Nate Montana. However, U-M’s following drive led to a three-and-out.
On the next Michigan possession, Robinson struck with his legs again, this time on an 87-yard touchdown run to increase U-M’s advantage to 21-7. With 1:56 to play in the first half, Robinson took the designed keeper right and followed a huge block down field from Roundtree that sprung his record-setting run.
The Fighting Irish had one final opportunity to put some points on the board before halftime. With 10 seconds remaining, Montana connected with Theo Reddick on a 37-yard pass down the left sideline to put Notre Dame on the three-yard line with three ticks left. After calling their final timeout, the Fighting Irish elected to go for a touchdown instead of kick a field goal, but Montana’s pass was thrown out of the end zone and Michigan took a 14-point lead into halftime
Crist returned to action for Notre Dame in the second half and put the Fighting Irish back on the board, connecting on a 53-yard pass to T.J. Jones to cut the Michigan lead to 21-14. After a Michigan three-and-out, Notre Dame marched down the field again, but the Maize and Blue defense stood its ground in the red zone and forced the Fighting Irish to settle for a 24-yard field goal, making the score 21-17 midway through the third quarter.
The Wolverines had a chance to add to the score late in the third quarter, but a 39-yard field goal attempt went wide right. On the first play following the missed field goal, senior defensive tackle Greg Banks and redshirt junior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen put pressure on Crist, forcing a pass into the hands of Kovacs following a tip at the line by Mouton. After the offense stalled, the punt team pinned Notre Dame inside its own five-yard line.
Michigan pinned Notre Dame deep in its own territory again with less than four minutes remaining in the game, until Crist connected with tight end Kyle Rudolph for a 95-yard touchdown pass to put the Fighting Irish in front 24-21 with 3:41 to go in the game.
On the ensuing possession, Michigan drove 72 yards down the field in 12 plays, chewing up 3:14. The Wolverines converted on a third-and-five from Notre Dame’s 17-yard line when Robinson hit Roundtree down the middle for a 15-yard gain, setting up Robinson’s two-yard scamper on the next play.
Notre Dame had one final opportunity to win the game, but Crist’s final pass sailed out of the end zone as time expired.
Michigan returns to Ann Arbor for a non-conference game against Massachusetts next Saturday (Sept. 18). The game will be broadcast nationally by the Big Ten Network starting at noon.
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