Denard Robinson leads 17-point rally as Michigan football team stuns Notre Dame, 35-31
Melanie Maxwell | AnnArbor.com
From the start, the Michigan football team had several banner moments Saturday night.
The Wolverines made Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard an inaugural "Michigan Football Legend," drew in a Michigan Stadium-record 114,804 fans and hosted its first home night game.
And, thanks to Denard Robinson, Michigan finished the night with a memorable victory.
Robinson accounted for four fourth-quarter touchdowns, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Roy Roundtree with two seconds left in the game. That completed a 17-point comeback and give the Wolverines a 35-31 victory during their "Under the Lights" celebration.
"Every time you see this University of Michigan team, you're going to see a team that is going to play together and is going to keep fighting," Robinson said. "Until there's two zeros on the clock."
Michigan enters next week's game against Eastern Michigan with a 2-0 record under new coach Brady Hoke. Notre Dame, which opened the season ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, is 0-2.
After starting the fourth quarter down 24-7, Robinson gave Michigan its first lead of the game with 1:12 remaining when he hit senior running back Vincent Smith for a 21-yard screen pass touchdown. Brendan Gibbons' extra point made it 28-24, and the Wolverines appeared to be on their way to victory.
But Notre Dame had other plans.
Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees needed just 42 seconds to go 61 yards, capping a four-play drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to junior receiver Theo Riddick with 30 seconds to play, giving the Irish a 31-28 advantage.
Robinson still had 30 seconds to move Michigan.
The junior quarterback further implanted himself in Michigan football lore with a game-winning drive that covered 80 yards in 20 seconds.
Robinson began the drive with a 64-yard pass to sophomore receiver Jeremy Gallon that put the Wolverines on the Notre Dame 16 with 8 seconds left.
On the next play, Robinson lofted a jump ball to the corner of the end zone that was hauled in by Roundtree.
The play was put under review, but was ultimately ruled a score -- completing the comeback and sending the record-setting crowd into a frenzy.
"It wasn't pretty probably at times on both ends of it," Hoke said. "But like I told our players, it's great to win.
"To go out there and play for 60 minutes and to win the football game in the manner that we won ... I'm real proud of them."
Asked if he considered kicking a potential game-tying field goal late rather than go for the game-winning touchdown pass -- Hoke said, no, he was playing to win.
"We had two timeouts, so we were going to at least give it a shot into the endzone," Hoke said. "If Denard would've scrambled and got tackled, (we thought) we had enough time to call a timeout. ... And I (still) may have gone for the touchdown.
"Why not? You play to win. You might as well go win."
Robinson finished 11-of-24 passing for 338 passing yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran 16 times for 108 yards and a score.
Senior receiver Junior Hemingway made three catches for 165 yards and a score, while Gallon made two grabs for 78 yards and a touchdown.
Roundtree's game-winning catch was his only reception of the night.
Rees finished with 315 passing yards to go along with three touchdowns, but also tossed a pair of interceptions - two of Notre Dame's five turnovers on the day.
Hoke and the Wolverines are 2-0 -- but the first-year coach made sure to caution that the club isn't where it needs to be yet.
Not even close.
"We're a long way away and you're going to get sick of me saying that, but we are," he said. "The expectations for this program is way too high for us to think we're where we need to be."