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First half recap: Michigan 27, Notre Dame 13

Mike Monaco | Saturday, September 7, 2013

ANN ARBOR, MICH. – The Irish began the game at their own 25-yard line but quickly went three and out and punted the ball over to the Wolverines. Michigan promptly put together a 10-play, 41-yard drive to get down to the Notre Dame 27-yard line. But the Irish held firm defensively and forced a 44-yard field goal from Michigan senior kicker Brendan Gibbons, who drilled the kick to make it 3-0 early.

After another three and out by the Irish, Michigan struck quickly when senior receiver Jeremy Gallon caught the ball in the middle of the field, shook off a few would-be Notre Dame tacklers and scampered in for a 61-yard touchdown to put the Wolverines up 10-0 with 5:35 remaining in the first quarter.

The Irish responded, however, and put together a nine-play drive that included four first downs. Notre Dame got down to the Michigan 4-yard line, where senior quarterback Tommy Rees fired a pass into the end zone. The throw skipped off the hands of junior running back George Atkinson, and senior receiver TJ Jones corralled it for the touchdown to cut the Michigan lead to 10-7 with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter.

At the outset of the second stanza, the Wolverines couldn’t get anything going following the Notre Dame touchdown. The Irish took over near midfield after an 18-yard punt return by Jones. But Notre Dame stalled after gaining one first down, and junior kicker Kyle Brindza stepped up and drained a 44-yard field goal to knot the game at 10 less than a minute into the second quarter.

But Michigan stormed right back with a 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive, capped off by a two-yard option keeper by junior quarterback Devin Gardner for the touchdown. The Wolverines got down to the two after Gardner threw to the end zone on third down and Irish sophomore Elijah Shumate was flagged for defensive pass interference. Michigan converted three third downs on the drive.

On the ensuing drive, Notre Dame picked up first downs on three of its first four plays on catches by Jones, Atkinson and junior receiver DaVaris Daniels. But the Irish stalled again, this time in the red zone, and Brindza hit a 24-yard field goal to cut the Michigan advantage to 17-13 with under six minutes left in the first half.

The Wolverines started their next drive quickly, as Gardner ran it twice for 42 yards down to the Irish 21-yard line. But Michigan then committed back-to-back holding penalties and backed up 20 yards. On third and 10, Gardner tried to find Gallon in the end zone, but Irish sophomore cornerback KeiVarae Russell broke up the pass. Gibbons hit a 38-yard field goal and Michigan restored its lead to 7 with 1:56 left in the half.

The Irish began with great field position after a late-hit penalty against Michigan on the kickoff. On the second play from scrimmage, Rees rolled to his left and threw an interception – the first Notre Dame turnover of the season – to Michigan junior cornerback Blake Countess, who returned it to the Irish 23-yard line. Three plays later, Gardner found Gallon again in the end zone as the Wolverines extended their lead to 27-13 with 1:09 left in the half.

Michigan will receive to start the second half.

Contact Mike Monaco at jmonaco@nd.edu