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Michigan escapes with 42-37 win over UMass
Memories of Appalachian State echoed around the Big House on Saturday afternoon.
At least for a little while.
It took the sluggish Michigan football team almost half the game to find its rhythm, but the Wolverines eventually survived, beating FCS opponent UMass, 42-37, in Ann Arbor.
Wide receiver Darryl Stonum caught two touchdown passes from Denard Robinson in a 1-minute, 1-second span just before halftime to help Michigan (3-0) capture needed momentum, not to mention a 21-17 lead headed into the break.
Michael Shaw had a 34-yard touchdown run on the first series of the second half to help soothe the frayed nerves of the 110,187 in attendance. Shaw had three touchdowns on the day.
That should have been enough for the Wolverines, but the game wasn’t over until the end.
After getting a breather in the third quarter, the Wolverines got trapped in another battle with a former Division I-AA team.
UMass quarterback Kyle Havens hit Julian Talley for a 5-yard touchdown with 5:31 left that made the score 42-30, then blocked a punt on Michigan’s next drive.
The Minutemen raced down the field and scored again on a 7-yard TD pass from Havens to Andrew Krevis that made it 42-37 with 2:05 remaining.
For the Minutemen, the late charge resembled their first-quarter savvy. UMass kicked a field goal on the game’s opening drive, the first of several polished offensive possessions for the Minutemen (2-1).
Robinson, an early Heisman Trophy candidate, threw his first interception of the season on Michigan’s opening offensive possession, and Michigan’s defense showed a propensity for playing soft and missing tackles, giving up 439 yards in the game.
It didn’t help when Seth Broekhuizen, getting the nod over an ineffective Brendan Gibbons, missed a field-goal wide left in the first half. Collectively, the Wolverines are 1-for-5 on field-goal attempts this year.
Massachusetts methodically drove up the field in a drive that culminated in a Jonathan Hernandez touchdown run with 3:28 left in the second quarter, which gave UMass a 17-7 lead.
At that point, radio announcers, fans and others all recalled the 34-32 improbable upset Appalachian State pulled off against the No. 5-ranked Wolverines to start the 2007 season.
But Stonum saved Michigan headed into halftime.
Immediately following the UMass score, he caught a 66-yard touchdown pass from Robinson that drew Michigan to within three points.
UMass made its first real mistake of the day on its following drive. Pushing to the Michigan 36-yard line with 45 seconds remaining until halftime, tailback John Griffin fumbled.
Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs recovered.
From there, Robinson took over. He hooked up with Junior Hemingway on a 36-yard strike down the left sideline. A few plays later, he hit Stonum for a 9-yard touchdown on the far right side of the south end zone.
Michigan had the lead, 21-17, and the confidence it needed.
Robinson finished 10-of-14 passing for 241 yards and two touchdowns, while picking up an additional 104 yards on 17 carries on the ground.
Before the game, Michigan honored legend Ron Kramer with a Jim Brandstatter-narrated video tribute displayed on the Michigan scoreboard. Kramer died last Saturday at age 75.
The Wolverines also paid tribute to UMass band director George Parks, 57, who died in Ohio on Thursday night en route to Saturday’s game in Ann Arbor.
By Pete Bigelow, AnnArbor.com