Site: Ann Arbor, Mich. (Michigan Stadium)
Score: Michigan 14, #10 Penn State 9
Records: U-M (2-2, 1-0 Big Ten), PSU (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten)
Next U-M Event: Saturday, Sep. 29 -- at Northwestern (Evanston, Ill.), 11:00 a.m. CDT
Boxscore | Player Participation | Postgame Notes | Quotes | Photos
ANN ARBOR , Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team claimed a 14-9 victory in its Big Ten opener against the No. 10 Penn State Nittany Lions Saturday (Sept. 22) in front of 111,310 fans in Michigan Stadium. Led by a physical defense and dominating running game, the Wolverines (2-2, 1-0 Big Ten) were able to control the time-of-possession battle by almost 10 minutes en route to U-M's biggest victory of the young season.
Senior running back Mike Hart(Syracuse, N.Y./Onondaga Central HS) led all performers with a career-high 44 carries for 153 yards and a score. Starting in his second career game, freshman quarterback Ryan Mallett(Texarkana, Ark./Texarkana [Texas] HS) completed 16-of-29 passes for 170 yards and rushed for a touchdown. Senior receiver Adrian Arrington(Cedar Rapids, Iowa/Washington HS) and junior receiver Mario Manningham(Warren, Ohio/Warren G. Harding HS) each hauled in six catches for 70 and 61 yards, respectively.
Defensively, senior safety Jamar Adams(Charlotte, N.C./Butler HS) led the charge for a hard-hitting secondary, recording eight tackles and five pass break ups. Fifth-year senior safety Brandent Englemon(Covington, Ky./Holmes HS) added six tackles. Senior linebacker Chris Graham(Indianapolis, Ind./Warren Central) chipped in with five tackles, including a tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.
After a pair of three-and-outs by both teams to start the game, the Wolverines jumped on the board first with a 10-yard scramble by Mallett. The highlight-reel play began as Mallett dropped back and looked to pass but decided to take off around the left end. Following a strong pump fake, Mallett fooled the PSU defense and high-stepped into the endzone. Michigan had gained possession of the ball on a sack-and-strip of Nittany Lion quarterback Anthony Morelli by sophomore defensive lineman Brandon Graham(Detroit, Mich./Crockett Technical HS). The fumble was recovered by Chris Graham deep in PSU territory, leading to Mallett's first career rushing score at 9:35 in the first quarter.
Penn State cut the lead to 7-3 on a 28-yard field goal by Kevin Kelly at 9:14 in the second quarter. After moving the ball 69 yards in 10 plays, the Nittany Lions' drive stalled on the 11-yard line after an incompletion from Morelli to receiver Deon Butler on third down. Morelli was three-for-four for 48 yards on the drive.
Michigan failed to capitalize on offensive opportunities late in the first half, entering halftime with the 7-3 advantage. The first missed opportunity came on a 29-yard missed field goal by Jason Gingell(Northville, Mich./Catholic Central HS) at 2:56 remaining in the second quarter. The attempt came at the end of a 17-play drive that began on Michigan's own 18-yard line. Hart fueled the drive with 50 rushing yards on nine carries. The Wolverines missed another golden opportunity to put points on the board at the end of the half, as an interception by Lydell Sargeant on an aggressive Mallett pass at the PSU six-yard line ended U-M's 11-play drive with one-second remaining before the break.
Penn State trimmed the lead to 7-6 on a 29-yard field goal by Kelly with 23 seconds left in the third quarter. The kick capped off an eight-play, 23-yard drive, which included a handful of successful passes from Morelli that brought the ball to U-M's two-yard line. However -- inches away from a touchdown -- Penn State's Jerrell Golden committed a holding penalty, bringing the ball back to the Michigan 12-yard line.
Leading by a point, the Wolverines extended their advantage on a one-yard touchdown plunge by Hart. The score culminated a 15-play, 77-yard drive that featured three third-down conversions, including a pass interference penalty on third-and-goal to give U-M the ball at first-and-goal from the two-yard line. Hart carried the ball nine times for 33 yards on the drive. The score gave Michigan the 14-6 lead with 8:52 left in the game.
Penn State would trim the lead on another 31-yard field goal by Kelly, cutting the lead to 14-9 at 6:04 in the fourth quarter. Rodney Kinlaw sparked the nine-play drive with a 38-yard run on second-and-two to march the Nittany Lions into Michigan territory.
Still trailing 14-9, Penn State received a Michigan punt at its own 13-yardline with 1:29 remaining and no timeouts. Facing immense pressure from the Wolverine defensive line -- primarily from Brandon Graham -- Morelli was forced into four straight incompletions to seal the U-M victory. The Wolverine defense has not given up a touchdown in nine quarters.
Michigan plays its first road game of the season, traveling to Evanston, Ill., to take on the Northwestern Wildcats. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. CDT and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Media Contact: David Ablauf (734) 763-4423