Sept. 3, 2011
Press Conference: Brady Hoke | Kovacs & Herron | Dave Brandon
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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan Stadium)
Score: Michigan 34, Western Michigan 10 (declared final with 1:27 left in third quarter due to weather)
Records: U-M (1-0), Western Michigan (0-1)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Sept. 10 -- vs. Notre Dame - Under the Lights (Michigan Stadium), 8 p.m. (TV: ESPN)
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Senior weakside linebacker Brandon Herron (Stafford, Texas/Dulles) became the first Wolverine in school history to post two defensive scores in a single contest, helping lead the University of Michigan football to a 34-10 win over Western Michigan in the 2011 season opener, which was declared final with 1:27 in the third quarter due to weather on Saturday (Sept. 3) inside Michigan Stadium. The victory is head coach Brady Hoke's first at the helm of the Michigan program.
Although the opening kickoff featured 90-degree heat and sunny skies, storms from the southwest rolled over Michigan Stadium in the second half. The game was suspended twice in the third quarter after lightning was spotted within six miles of the stadium. The first suspension resulted in only a 30-minute delay, but the bleak outlook of the second suspension forced Michigan and Western Michigan officials to call the game with 1:27 left in the third quarter and declare the Wolverines the winner. This is the first Michigan football game to end due to weather before all 60 minutes of regulation have been played.
Herron, who racked up a career-high eight tackles, returned both an interception and a fumble to the south end zone for touchdowns. His 94-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the second quarter was the longest interception return in program history, besting Ken Tureaud's 92-yarder in 1961. Senior/junior safety Jordan Kovacs (Curtice, Ohio/Clay) led the defense in tackles (10), TFLs (two) and sacks (two), and registered the forced fumble that led to Herron's second touchdown.
On the offensive side of the ball, junior/sophomore running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) -- in his first career start -- recorded 11 carries for a career-high 80 yards and a career-best two touchdowns. Both of Toussaint's scores were from within two yards of the goal line (one yard, two yard). He also registered a 43-yard run late in the third quarter that set up senior running back Michael Shaw's (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) 44-yard touchdown sprint -- the longest of touchdown of his career -- two plays later for Michigan's final touchdown.
After Western Michigan scored on its opening drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown on fourth down, Michigan countered with a one-yard touchdown run by Toussaint on the ensuing possession. Toussaint earned six carries on the 16-play scoring drive, including a key three-yard run on fourth-and-one to the WMU 16-yard line to extend the possession. Junior quarterback Denard Robinson (Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach) was perfect in his first drive of the 2011 campaign, completing 5-of-5 passes for 33 yards and adding 26 yards on the ground.
The Broncos had two opportunities to retake the lead, but first missed a 38-yard field goal wide right and, after maneuvering the way down to the U-M four-yard line, sophomore/freshman outside linebacker Jake Ryan (Westlake, Ohio/St. Ignatius) broke through the Broncos' offensive line and deflected the intended pass straight up into the air and into the waiting arms of Herron, who tip-toed the right sideline before hurrying down field with a convoy of Michigan defenders for a 94-yard return for a touchdown, giving the Wolverines their first lead of the game, 14-7, with 6:58 remaining in the second quarter.
U-M then forced a three-and-out to set up Toussaint's second touchdown late in the second half -- a two-yard dive up the middle. Robinson connected with junior/sophomore wide receiver Jeremy Gallon (Apopka, Fla./Apopka) and senior/junior wide receiver Roy Roundtree (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison) on both his pass attempts, before four straight Michigan carries covered the final 22 yards into the end zone, including a Robinson 10-yard dance and weave through the WMU defense for a first down.
Western Michigan added a 36-yard field goal with 43 seconds left to cut the Wolverines' lead to 20-10 heading into halftime.
Kovacs made the play of the second half when he stormed in on a blitz and lit up the WMU quarterback, forcing a fumble. Herron picked up the loose ball, his second career fumble recovery, and thundered 28 yards into the end zone for his second defensive score of the game for a 27-10 Michigan advantage. The Wolverines followed the defensive score with the long touchdown run by Shaw to take a 24-point lead, and were driving again late in the third quarter, after fifth-year senior defensive end Ryan Van Bergen (Whitehall, Mich./Whitehall) recovered a Western Michigan fumbled snap, when the officials issued the second weather-related suspension, ultimately ending the game.
Up next for the Wolverines is the "Under the Lights" game with Notre Dame on Sept. 10 at Michigan Stadium. The inaugural night game at the Big House kicks off at 8 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.
Contact: Justin Dickens (734) 763-4423