No. 17 Michigan routs C Michigan 59-9 in opener
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Devin Gardner did enough with his right arm and legs to help No. 17 Michigan have its best day offensively in more than a century during an opener, routing Central Michigan 59-9 Saturday.
It was the highest-scoring opening game for the Wolverines (1-0) since 1905, when they beat Ohio Wesleyan 65-0.
"That's pretty impressive," Michigan offensive tackle Michael Schofield said. "That's pretty good.
"It's a good start, I guess."
It might not help the Wolverines, though, next week when they face a tougher test against No. 14 Notre Dame in a prime-time game at the Big House.
The Chippewas (0-1) fell behind 35-6 at halftime after losing two key players.
Quarterback Cody Kater broke a clavicle and running back Zurlon Tipton broke an ankle.
"Not a good start for the Chips," coach Dan Enos said.
And, it didn't get much better for the Mid-American Conference team because it gave up five straight TDs from midway through the second quarter until before Ron Coluzzi's third field goal made it 56-9.
Kater was 2 of 6 for 13 yards and Alex Niznak replaced him, completing 11 of 22 passes for 131 yards with an interception.
"I made a couple mistakes, but the moment wasn't too big for me," said Niznak, who was sacked four times.
Tipton ran for 10 yards on four carries, getting shut down during three series as Michigan focused on him because he ran for nearly 1,500 yards last season. Saylor Lavallii played in place of Tipton and had 52 yards rushing on 10 attempts.
Gardner was 10 of 15 for 162 yards with a 16-yard TD pass to Jeremy Gallon and two interceptions. He ran for a 22-yard score midway through the first quarter when Michigan led by just four points and had a 4-yard TD on the ground late in the first half.
"He had a good game, I wouldn't say elite or excellent," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said.
The Wolverines' scoring barrage started on the opening drive when Dymonte Thomas blocked Central Michigan's punt and Joe Reynolds scooped up the football and returned it 30 yards for a score.
"It gave us some momentum," Hoke said.
Gardner threw an interception on his second pass, and overthrew a receiver on his other interception. Other than those two snaps, Denard Robinson's replacement was effective throwing and running the ball in his first season-opening game as a starting quarterback.
"I was so excited that I kept telling myself not trip and fall when I was running out to touch the banner," Gardner said of the team's pregame tradition. "I can't even describe what it felt like coming out of that tunnel knowing that I was the starting quarterback at Michigan."
The rout allowed Michigan to give freshman Shane Morris playing time, a potentially valuable experience in case Gardner gets injured this season. A lot of other players also made their debut during the lopsided game.
"We were fortunate enough that the game went the way it did so we could do that," Hoke said.
Michigan's Fitzgerald Toussaint completed a successful comeback, running for 57 yards and two TDs in his first game since breaking his left leg last November against Iowa.
Toussaint said before the game, he walked toward the spot on the field where his career could've ended.
"That was emotional," he said. "It's been a long journey. Physically, I felt great, but today was never about the physical part of the game. This was mentally tough, but I got through it, and I felt really good after I got out there and started playing."
One of Toussaint's backups, Drake Johnson, left the game after appearing to hurt his left knee in the third quarter. Reynolds also hurt his left knee during the game.
Hoke said he didn't know how severe Johnson and Reynolds' injuries were immediately after the game.
Michigan announced a couple hours before kickoff that starting safety Thomas Gordon was suspended for one game for an unspecified violation of team rules, but the punishment will not prevent him from playing the rival Fighting Irish.
"He'll be out on the field next Saturday night," Hoke said.
Updated September 1, 2013
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