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Wolverines’ Late Comeback Falls Short Against Fighting Irish

Wolverines’ Late Comeback Falls Short Against Fighting Irish


       (Watson, Michigan)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The No. 14-ranked University of Michigan football team fell to No. 12-ranked Notre Dame, 24-17, in the opening contest of the 2018 campaign Saturday night (Sept. 1) at Notre Dame Stadium. The Wolverine defense held the Fighting Irish to 64 yards on 30 plays in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome a 21-10 halftime deficit.

Trailing by seven with 1:48 to play, Michigan regained possession at its own 25-yard line with no timeouts remaining. Junior quarterback Shea Patterson hit senior Grant Perry with back-to-back strikes for 20 yards to move the ball to the Michigan 45-yard line. Then, on 2nd-and-10, Patterson was flushed from the pocket and sacked from behind, fumbling on the play as Notre Dame took over possession to run out the last 46 seconds of the contest.

Making his Michigan debut, Patterson went 20-of-30 for 227 yards, while senior tailback Karan Higdon led the ground game with 72 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. Sophomore Nico Collins hauled in a three receptions for 68 yards, while sophomore Donovan Peoples-Jones had a game-high six receptions for 38 yards.

Defensively, senior Tyree Kinnel led the overall effort with eight tackles, and senior defensive end Chase Winovich had 3.5 tackles for loss and a pair of quarterback hurries.

After falling behind 14-0, the Michigan defense forced a three-and-out, resulting in a Fighting Irish punt that saw U-M take control in plus-territory at the Notre Dame 41-yard line with 1:02 to go in the opening quarter.

Higdon ran five times for 22 yards on the drive, capped off by a 28-yard field goal from junior kicker Quinn Nordin to cut the deficit to 14-3 with 11:32 to play in the second quarter.

On the ensuing drive, Notre Dame converted a 4th-and-inches and the Michigan defense forced an incompletion from quarterback Brandon Wimbush on third down, but a roughing the passer penalty extended the Fighting Irish drive. On the ensuing play, Armstrong rushed for his second score of the evening the bring the tally to 21-3 with 3:55 to play in the second quarter.

U-M fired back on the following kickoff, when sophomore Ambry Thomas fielded the kick at the 1-yard line. He went on to break a pair of tackles at the Michigan 35-yard line, and then took it to the house for the third 99-yard kickoff touchdown return in Wolverine history, bringing the score to 21-10 with 3:41 left in the quarter.

That score held until halftime, but U-M got off to a faster start in the second half, with Patterson finding Collins for a 52-yard reception that set up a 12-yard connection with Peoples-Jones. But the drive stalled and resulted in a 33-yard field-goal attempt from Nordin. The snap was bobbled, and the Fighting Irish took over on downs at their own 16.

Two plays later, Winovich got pressure on Wimbush, who heaved up a pass that was picked off at the Michigan 49-yard line by senior defensive back Brandon Watson ECU/Wilmington) on the far sideline for his first career interception.

The Wolverines took over possession pinned deep in their own territory early in the fourth quarter trailing, 21-10, with sophomore Dylan McCaffrey taking over the offense in relief of an injured Patterson. McCaffrey started his relief appearance 3-of-3 for 21 yards on the drive, converting three first downs and guiding the offense into Notre Dame territory, but U-M turned the ball over on downs at the Fighting Irish 44.

Trailing 24-10 with 5:07 to play, Patterson re-entered the game and guided a Wolverine drive that was highlighted by a pair of receptions by junior Chris Evans -- one for 13 yards and the latter for 24, as well as a 21-yard reception by sophomore Oliver Martin that brought the ball to the Notre Dame five. With 2:18 remaining, Higdon finished off the drive with a three-yard rush up the gut to bring the score to the eventual final score of 24-17.

Following a three-and-out for Notre Dame, Michigan took over with one last effort to tie the game but Khalid Kareem forced the decisive fumble.

U-M will open the home portion of its schedule next Saturday (Sept. 8) when they play host to Western Michigan. The game begins at noon from Michigan Stadium and will air nationally on FS1.

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