Michigan stuns No. 18 Notre Dame, 38-34Published 10:39am Sunday, September 13, 2009
ANN ARBOR - With just 11 seconds left on the clock, freshman quarterback Tate Forcier found senior wide receiver Greg Mathews along the goal line for a game-winning, five-yard touchdown, sealing a 38-34 victory for the University of Michigan football team over No. 18 Notre Dame on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.
After a missed field-goal attempt ended Notre Dame’s opening drive, U-M scored on its second possession to open the game’s scoring. Forcier dodged a defender to rush eight yards up the middle to start the drive, but a holding penalty on the next play brought the team back 10 yards. The true freshman quarterback followed up an incomplete pass with a 40-yard bomb to Mathews, who leapt over a defender to snag the pass.
Two plays later, Carlos Brown caught a pass from Forcier before skirting 12 yards along the sideline for a first down. Minor then carried the ball in each of the next three plays, including a 22-yard run that brought the Maize and Blue to the Irish 2-yard line, and on the next play, he forced his way into the end zone to hand Michigan the lead.
Notre Dame was thought to have evened the game up at seven points apiece in the next series when quarterback Jimmy Clausen tossed the ball to junior halfback Armando Allen, who ran up the sideline and into the end zone for a 41-yard play. A review of the run found that Allen had inadvertently stepped out of bounds, voiding the touchdown and placing the ball back at Michigan’s 22-yard line. The Irish could not capitalize on their field position, settling for a three-point field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Stonum ran 94 yards to make it a 14-3 Michigan lead. Stonum’s scamper was the sixth-longest return in program history.
Notre Dame responded early in the second quarter with a 76-yard drive of its own, ending with a four-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Golden Tate, bringing the Irish within four.
The Fighting Irish grabbed their first lead of the contest on its next series when sophomore wide receiver Michael Floyd snagged the ball in the right corner of the end zone on an 11-yard pass from Clausen. On their following drive, the Irish extended their lead with a 42-yard field goal by kicker Nick Tausch, giving Notre Dame 17 unanswered points in the second quarter.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Michigan pushed 48 yards down the field in nine plays to Notre Dame’s 22.
Stonum jump-started the drive when he hooked up with Forcier on a 24-yard play to reach midfield. Freshman quarterback Denard Robinson re-entered the game, rushing 15 yards. Forcier took the snaps for the rest of the series, gaining two yards on the ground and later completing a fourth-down pass to Mathews for 15 yards. Three plays later, fifth-year senior Jason Olesnavage split the uprights with a 39-yard field goal, which brought the Wolverines within three points as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms.
Stevie Brown forced a fumble during Notre Dame’s first possession of the second half, causing the first turnover of the game with 9:43 remaining in the third quarter. Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton picked up the ball at the Irish’s 26-yard line. Minor then took the Wolverines deep into Notre Dame territory with two straight carries, totaling 19 yards. Robinson came into the game and rushed five yards to Notre Dame’s 3-yard line, and Forcier followed with a three-yard scoring pass to Koger, who caught the ball before diving into the end zone for his second touchdown in as many games. The quick five-play, 26-yard series put U-M back in the lead, 24-20.
Michigan ended the third quarter at Notre Dame’s 30 after gaining 14 yards on the ground and getting a 20-yard reception by Koger from Forcier. Minor rushed for a loss of one, but Forcier more than made up for it on the next play as he darted 31 yards into the end zone. The 64-yard drive lasted 3:07 and boosted the Wolverines’ lead to 31-20 early into the fourth quarter.
It took the Irish 14 plays and 80 yards, but Notre Dame returned to the end zone on a 21-yard completion from Clausen to Tate. Notre Dame tried to go for a two-point conversion with the hopes of making it only a three-point difference, but Clausen was unable to find a teammate, leaving Michigan with a five-point lead.
On the Wolverine’s ensuing drive, Forcier’s pass was picked off by a Notre Dame safety and returned for 20 yards, spotting the Irish at Michigan’s 36-yard line with 7:42 left in the contest. The Irish took advantage of the turnover, moving 36 yards and into the red zone before Allen rushed eight yards for the touchdown. Notre Dame opted for the two-point conversion once again and was successful in this attempt to make it 34-31 in its favor.
Notre Dame’s lead was short-lived, however, as the Wolverines marched 57 yards down the field in nine plays, scoring a five-yard touchdown pass with 11 seconds remaining in the game. Forcier connected twice with both slot receiver Martavious Odoms and LaTerryal Savoy in the Wolverines’ final series to push Michigan into scoring position.
The Wolverines amassed a total of 430 yards, including 190 on the ground and 240 in the air.
Running back Brandon showed up big in his season debut, rushing for 106 yards on 16 carries, including the game’s first touchdown. Forcier went 23-of-33 for 240 yards and scored three touchdowns — two passing and one rushing.
Forcier connected with wide receiver Stonum four times for a total of 54 yards, including a 24-yard reception late in the second quarter. Stonum left his mark on special teams, returning a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter. snagged a touchdown pass from Forcier for the second time in as many games and ended the contest with 38 receiving yards.
Michael Williams and Troy Woolfolk headlined the defensive efforts, finishing the game with eight tackles apiece, while Brown added six tackles — two for loss — in addition to forcing a fumble that resulted in a touchdown series. Donovan Warren led the secondary with three break-ups and six tackles.
The Wolverines remain home next Saturday (Sept. 19) when they host Eastern Michigan at Michigan Stadium. The game is slated for a noon start and will be televised on the Big Ten Network as U-M looks to match its 2008 win total.
Notre Dame 3 17 0 14 – 34
Michigan 14 3 7 14 – 38
MICH – Minor, Brandon 2 yd run (Olesnavage, Jason kick)
ND – TAUSCH, NICK 34 yd field goal
MICH – Stonum, Darryl 94 yd kickoff return (Olesnavage kick)
ND – TATE, GOLDEN 4 yd pass from CLAUSEN, JIMMY (TAUSCH kick)
ND – FLOYD, MICHAEL 11 yd pass from CLAUSEN (TAUSCH kick)
ND – TAUSCH 42 yd field goal
MICH – Olesnavage 39 yd field goal
MICH – Forcier 31 yd run (Olesnavage kick)
ND – TATE 21 yd pass from CLAUSEN (pass failed)
ND – ALLEN 8 yd run (ALLEN rush)
MICH – Mathews, Greg 5 yd pass from Forcier (Olesnavage kick)