Michigan beats weather, WMU

Published 1:53 pm Monday, September 5, 2011

Michigan wide receiver Kevin Kroger leaps high to haul in a pass from Denard Robinson in the Wolverines’ 34-10 victory over Western Michigan Saturday in a storm-shortened contest. (Photo courtesy/ RYAN BRUNWORTH)

ANN ARBOR — University of Michigan head football coach Brady Hoke won his initial game as the Wolverine’ mentor over cross-state rival Western Michigan University Saturday in a weather-shortened contest, 34-10.

After evacuating the 110,000-plus in attendance on the second interruption with 1:27 before the fourth quarter it was announced the game would end with the consent by both athletic departments as more wind, rain and lightning was on the way.

“Obviously, it was an unusual circumstance to stop the game, but as long as kids came out healthy — then everything turned out,” mentioned Hoke, after a rain shower with lightening stopped play with less than two minutes into the third quarter with the Wolverines ahead 20-10.

The Broncos kicked around the revamped Michigan defense on the first possession of the season, led by junior quarterback Alex Carder, as he completed all eight of his passes. Sophomore Antoin Scriven scored from one yard out nearly midway through the opening stanza for a 7-0 Western Michigan lead, which stood for the remaining 7:49.

After changing end zones, Michigan took two plays before sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussant replicated Scriven’s score to tie the contest at 7-7.

Junior Wolverine quarterback Denard Robinson completed all five of his tosses and led the drive with 26 rushing yards on four attempts.

Western brought back the ensuing kick-off to mid-field and drove to the 21-yard line, but a 38-yard field goal by senior John Potter was not successful.

The Broncos stopped Michigan on three plays and after the punt started another drive halfway between the goal posts.  Redshirt freshman Jake Ryan pressured Carder’s pass for a potential touchdown, whiched resulted in a record breaking 94-yard interception return by senior linebacker Brandon Herron instead.

Not since 1948 (modern era) has there been a longer return with a pick from any Wolverine.

“My legs carried me all the way with no ball security whatsoever and it was the first time since eighth grade that I scored, when I played running back,” said Herron. “I had butterflies all week, but it is natural to be nervous as every day is a challenge to compete to get better.”

With just under two minutes to play in the second stanza, Toussant duplicated his first quarter scoring run and the third attempt by sophomore Brendan Gibbons to successfully kick the extra point was blocked by a Bronco to keep the score at 20-7.

Carder found senior receiver Jordan White on three consecutive passes, which accumulating 43 yards to the Michigan 19-yard line. After three incompletions, Potter put one between the uprights with a 36-yard field goal to cut the lead in half.

Western out gained the Wolverines 199-146 in the first half with Carder completing 17 throws out of 24 attempts for 135 yards and the more publicized Robinson netted 61 yards through the air with 40 more coming on running attempts.

Sophomore Tevin Drake carried the pigskin five times for nearly a double figure average (47 yards) for the Broncos.

“Offensively, we took care of the football and defensively we applied pressure at times,” noted Hoke.

The third quarter was electrifying for the Wolverines as Western came out after the first delay and quickly fumbled the ball when junior safety Jordan Kovacs sacked Carder, but before hitting the ground he fumbled the ball directly to (National Defensive Player of Week) Herron, who found nobody in front of the goal line for 29 yards to cushion the lead to 27-10. Kovacs was the leading tackler for Michigan with 10 stops and the only two sacks of Carder.

“Nobody was in front of me either time,” added Herron.  “We will be ready come game day next week against a good Notre Dame offense.”

A dampened Bronco defense did not touch senior Michael Shaw on the next Michigan possession as he ran 44 yards for the final score before the second and last postponement of action.

“Brandon as a senior continues to learn and grow, but the defense is still a long way away on how we want to represent Michigan,” stated Hoke. “I am pleased with 190 yards rushing and no penalties and not pleased with third down conversions and kickoff returns from both ways.”

The Broncos had seven more minutes of possession time and 17 more offensive plays, but the offensive yards were only nine yards different. Western converted on six of 11 third down attempts with the Wolverines being successful on half of their six attempts.

“Everybody wanted to play to finish the game, but we wanted everybody to safe,” explained Herron. “The night game will be crazy with the fans already talking about it and getting to wear the throw back jerseys.”

Individually, Carder was 22-of-31 for 183 yards and with the one costly interception return, while White grabbed a dozen of the aerials for 119 markers. Senior safety Doug Wiggins led the Bronco defenders with nine stops.

Robinson completed nine passes to six different receivers for 98 yards on 13 attempts and gained 46 yards by running eight times. Toussant had 80 yards on 11 carries with Shaw adding 54 on four attempts.

‘Herron was runner-up to Kovacs in tackles with eight to be the star in his first start with this being his fifth year as a Wolverine.

Michigan will host Notre Dame in the first-ever night game at Michigan Stadium Saturday. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.