Balanced Attack, Stingy 'D' Propel U-M Past Broncos in Opener

Sept. 5, 2009

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Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan Stadium)
Score: Michigan 31, Western Michigan 7
Records: U-M (1-0), Western Michigan (0-1)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Sept. 12 -- vs. Notre Dame (Michigan Stadium), 3:30 p.m.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team beat Western Michigan, 31-7, to open its 2009 season on Saturday (Sept. 5) at Michigan Stadium. The Wolverines closed out the first half with a 31-0 lead, dominating play with a 289-79 yard differential on offense. True freshman quarterback Tate Forcier( San Diego, Calif./Scripps Ranch HS) took the majority of the snaps in the game, going 13-for-20 in his collegiate debut and connecting with junior/sophomore wide receiver Junior Hemingway(Conway, S.C./Conway HS) for two of his three touchdown passes.

Hemingway, meanwhile, caught five passes -- two for scores -- for 103 yards to top the Michigan receivers. True freshman quarterback Denard Robinson(Deerfield Beach, Fla./Deerfield Beach HS) added an exclamation point to the home opener with a 43-yard rushing touchdown on his first snap as quarterback. He led the team in rushing with 74 yards over 11 carries while completing two of his four pass attempts. Senior/junior quarterbacks Nick Sheridan(Saline, Mich./Saline HS) and David Cone(Statesboro, Ga./Statesboro HS) saw limited action in the second half.

Senior/junior linebacker Obi Ezeh(Grand Rapids, Mich./Catholic Central HS) pounced on a Western Michigan fumble midway through the fourth quarter, topping an already strong outing as he led the defense with eight tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and broke up a pass in the second quarter. Junior cornerback Donovan Warren(Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic HS) also had a break-up in the win, finishing the game with seven tackles, while sophomore defensive tackle Mike Martin(Redford, Mich./Catholic Central HS) sacked WMU quarterback Tim Hiller for a loss of three yards in the third quarter in addition to three tackles.

After a quick three-and-out by Western Michigan, the Wolverines started their opening drive at their own 48-yard line. Forcier moved the team across midfield, going three-for-three in the air while gaining four yards on the ground. Michigan punctuated the series with a 28-yard pass to Hemingway, who ran along the sideline into the end zone for U-M's first touchdown of the 2009 campaign. In 2:52 minutes, the Wolverines marched 52 yards down the field over seven plays.

Sophomore right cornerback Boubacar Cissoko(Detroit, Mich./Cass Technical HS) intercepted a Bronco pass attempt with 4:07 remaining in the first quarter, rushing 14 yards to Western Michigan's 38-yard line. In his first offensive snap as quarterback, Robinson dropped the snap before picking the ball up, changing direction and dashing 43 yards into the end zone to give Michigan a 14-0 lead.

Robinson closed out the first quarter, rushing 14 yards on three plays and completing a seven-yard pass to junior/sophomore slot receiver Kelvin Grady(Grand Rapids, Mich./East Grand Rapids HS). Forcier returned to the lineup just as the first quarter expired to finish the rest of the series. He handed the ball off to senior superback Carlos Brown(Franklin, Ga./Heard County HS) three times in six plays, gaining a total of 19 yards. Forcier then found an open Wolverine in the back of the end zone, making it easy for sophomore tight end Kevin Koger(Toledo, Ohio/Whitmer HS) to snag the seven-yard pass. The Wolverines moved 68 yards down the field in 12 plays over a span of 4:42, padding Michigan's lead at 21-0 lead.

The Maize and Blue tacked on three more points thanks to a 44-yard field goal from fifth-year senior Jason Olesnavage(Ferndale, Mich./Ferndale HS), the first of his career, ending a seven-play drive midway through the second quarter. Michigan did not let up on offense, scoring its fourth touchdown with 3:17 remaining in the half. Forcier connected with Hemingway once again on a 44-yard bomb for the touchdown.

Michigan's defense was unrelenting during the first half, shutting out the Broncos in all eight of their first-half drives. Freshman outside linebacker Craig Roh(Scottsdale, Ariz./Chaparral HS) and junior/sophomore defensive tackle Ryan Van Bergen(Whitehall, Mich./Whitehall HS) teamed up to sack Hiller for a loss of nine yards, pushing the Broncos back to Michigan's 26. Western Michigan's 44-yard field goal attempt sailed wide of the left goal post, leaving WMU scoreless heading into the locker room at halftime. On the game, U-M held the Broncos to 38 yards on the ground, including negative-two rushing yards at the half.

A holding penalty canceled out a rushing touchdown by sophomore running back Michael Shaw(Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison HS) in Michigan's first drive of the third quarter, pushing the Wolverines back to Western Michigan's 23-yard line. Sheridan attempted to connect in the end zone while scrambling but was intercepted by WMU cornerback Deshown Lawrence, who brought the ball out to the three-yard line. A 15-play, 80-yard drive by Western Michigan ended late in the third quarter when it turned over the ball on downs, keeping the Broncos off the scoreboard.

In the first play of the fourth quarter, senior/junior linebacker Jonas Mouton(Los Angeles, Calif./Venice HS) picked off a Western Michigan pass at U-M's 34-yard line. The Wolverines were unable to take advantage of the turnover, gaining only 13 yards in five plays and were forced to punt. The Broncos then drove 85 yards up the field in four plays, concluding the fourth-quarter drive with their lone touchdown pass of the game.

Michigan remains at home next Saturday (Sept. 12) when it hosts Notre Dame at Michigan Stadium. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and be broadcast on ABC.

Contact: David Ablauf (734) 763-4423

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