UofM: Six Rushing TDs Knock Out Chippewas in 2013 Opener
Senior/junior quarterback Devin Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Inkster) accounted for 214 total yards (162 passing, 52 rushing) and three touchdowns in leading the University of Michigan football team (No. 17 AP/No. 17/USA Today) to a resounding 59-9 victory over Central Michigan on Saturday (Aug. 31) at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines amassed 242 yards rushing and outgained the Chippewas, 463-210, in the season-opening rout.
Three Wolverine players had at least 50 yards rushing and four players had at least 40 yards receiving. Gardner and fifth-year senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) each had two rushing touchdowns, while junior Thomas Rawls (Flint, Mich./Flint Northern) and freshman Derrick Green (Richmond, Va./Hermitage) had one apiece. Fifth-year senior wide receiver Jeremy Gallon (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) was the team's leading receiver, hauling in four passes for 47 yards and one touchdown.
Junior linebacker Desmond Morgan (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) led the defense with seven tackles. Fifth-year senior linebacker Cameron Gordon (Detroit, Mich./Inkster) collected two sacks. The Michigan defense allowed only 12 first downs and forced three turnovers (two fumbles, one interception).
Michigan got on the board first by way of special teams. As the Chippewas punted away their first possession of the game, freshman defensive back Dymonte Thomas (Alliance, Ohio/Marlington) burst through the line to block it. The ball was scooped up by fifth-year senior wide receiver Joe Reynolds (Rochester, Mich./Rochester Adams) and returned 29 yards for a touchdown to give U-M an early 7-0 lead.
The Wolverines forced Central Michigan to put on their second possession but started deep in their own territory. On the second play from scrimmage, Gardner attempted to hit senior wide receiver Drew Dileo (Greenwell Springs, La./Parkview Baptist) on a short out-route but was instead intercepted. In the shadow of their own goal line, the Wolverines held on the first three plays, forcing Central Michigan into a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line. A delay of game penalty pushed the Chippewas back five yards, forcing them to settle for a 23-yard field goal that cut the score to 7-3 with 9:39 to play in the first quarter.
Gardner made plays with his legs on Michigan's next drive that led to a touchdown. On third-and-four near midfield, he was chased out of the pocket right but found Dileo open over the middle of the field for a 36-yard completion. On the next play, Gardner ran again, using down-field blocks to score on a 22-yard run to put U-M up 14-3 with 7:26 to play in the first quarter.
After another Central Michigan punt, the Wolverines scored again, set up by a 38-yard reverse from sophomore wide receiver Dennis Norfleet (Detroit, Mich./Martin Luther King). Gardner was 4-for-5 for 40 yards on the drive, which was capped with a one-yard touchdown run by Toussaint, making the score 21-3 in the early moments of the second quarter.
Central Michigan converted Gardner's second interception into three points to make the score 21-6. He responded on the team's next possession, however, engineering an 11-play, 76-yard drive that ended in a 16-yard touchdown pass to Gallon to make the score 28-6 with 2:04 to play in the first half.
The Wolverines tacked on another TD before halftime, as junior defensive back Raymon Taylor (Detroit, Mich./Highland Park) intercepted Central Michigan quarterback Alex Niznak and returned it 51 yards to set up the score. With 28 seconds left, Gardner scampered four yards for a touchdown, and the Wolverines led 35-6 heading into the locker room at halftime.
Michigan continued to score in the second half, as Toussaint ran it in from one yard out for his second score of the game to increase the lead to 42-6. The drive was set up off a 45-yard pass from Gardner to Reynolds that went down to the one-yard line. On the next offensive possession, Green and fellow true freshman De'Veon Smith (Warren, Ohio/Howland) combined for 55 yards on 10 carries, including a one-yard touchdown run by Green, making the score 49-6 with 4:55 left to play in the third quarter.
Freshman quarterback Shane Morris (Warren, Mich./De La Salle) made his collegiate debut near the end of the third quarter, taking Michigan down the field for another touchdown. Rawls finished the drive with a five-yard touchdown run to increase the lead to 56-6 with one second left in the third quarter.
The teams traded field goals to start the fourth quarter. The Chippewas converted on a 33-yard attempt to make the score 56-9. On the next drive, Morris threw an interception, but the Michigan defense got it right back on a fumble recovery. Freshman defensive back Channing Stribling (Matthews, N.C./Butler) forced it, and junior defensive back Delonte Hollowell (Detroit, Mich./Cass Technical) recovered, leading to a 30-yard field goal by fifth-year senior Brendan Gibbons (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman), putting the score at 59-9 with 6:59 to play in the game.