Sept. 21, 2013
Site: East Hartford, Conn. (Rentschler Field)
Score: #15 Michigan 24, Connecticut 21
Records: U-M (4-0), UConn (0-3)
Next U-M Game: Saturday, Oct. 5 -- vs. Minnesota - Homecoming (Michigan Stadium), 3:30 p.m.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan football team (No. 15 AP, No. 14 USA Today) came away with a 24-21 victory at Connecticut on Saturday night (Sept. 21), overcoming a two-touchdown deficit with 17 unanswered points -- punctuated with a 21-yard field goal from senior kicker Brendan Gibbons (West Palm Beach, Fla./Cardinal Newman) with 4:36 to play -- in front of a record-breaking crowd at Rentschler Field.
Fifth-year senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint (Youngstown, Ohio/Liberty) scored two second-half touchdowns and rushed for 120 yards, marking the sixth time in his career he eclipsed 100 yards on the ground. U-M's rushing attack combined to compile nearly 200 yards and three scores, with senior/junior quarterback Devin Gardner (Detroit, Mich./Inkster) contributing 64 yards and one touchdown.
On defense, junior linebacker Desmond Morgan (Holland, Mich./West Ottawa) came up with a leaping, one-handed interception and long return in the fourth that set up the second of Toussaint's two touchdowns. The Michigan front seven frequently found its way into the Connecticut backfield, led by junior defensive end Frank Clark (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville), who recorded two of Michigan's season-best four sacks.
The Wolverines opened the scoring towards the end of the first quarter when a defensive pass interference call set up a third-down 17-yard touchdown run by Gardner. The U-M offense faced four third downs during the drive.
Connecticut followed up with a three-and-out and amassed just one first down in the first quarter.
After another UConn three-and-out and three straight U-M drives that ended with punts, the Huskies broke through when tight end Spencer Parker reeled in an 11-yard throw over the middle from quarterback Chandler Whitmer to draw the game even at seven apiece.
On Michigan's next possession, Gardner threw his second interception of the evening, but the Wolverine defense held strong. However, the resulting punt bounced off a U-M player and was recovered by Connecticut just nine yards from the Michigan end zone. Two plays later, Whitmer connected with running back Lyle McCombs for a seven-yard score, and the Huskies entered halftime up, 14-7.
Michigan received the ball to begin the second half, but on a quarterback sneak attempt on third-and-short, Gardner fumbled and Connecticut safety Ty-Meer Brown picked it up and ran 35 yards into the end zone to give the Huskies a two-touchdown lead.
The two sides traded short drives, before the U-M offense found its rhythm when Toussaint took a pitch from Gardner for a 35-yard touchdown, turning it into a one-score contest.
The home side responded by driving deep into Michigan territory, but a key sack by junior cornerback Raymon Taylor (Detroit, Mich./Highland Park) forced a long field goal attempt. The Huskies' kicker Chad Christen followed by hooking his 46-yard try wide left.
Following the miss, Michigan marched from its own 29-yard line deep into Connecticut territory, but a Gardner dash on fourth down came up just short.
On Connecticut's first possession in the fourth quarter, Morgan jumped and snared a throw across the middle from Whitner and returned it to the 12-yard line. On the following play, Toussaint got to the outside and into the end zone to tie the game at 21-all with 10 minutes remaining.
After another three-and-out by the Connecticut offense, senior wide receiver Drew Dileo's (Greenwell Springs, La./Parkview Baptist) 24-yard punt return helped set up a 21-yard chip shot from Gibbons, who has converted 17 of his last 18 attempts, with 4:36 to go.
The Huskies had one last drive but were stymied, highlighted by Clark's second sack on the night.
The Wolverines head into the bye week after earning their first road win of the season on what was their first trip to the East Coast since 1995. Michigan will play host to Minnesota following the week off on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 3:30 p.m. on homecoming weekend.
Contact: Justin Dickens, Zach Eisendrath (734) 763-4423