After using Wolverine turnovers to forge a 10-all second quarter tie, the Miami RedHawks faded in the second half of a 34-10 loss to Michigan Saturday.
The Wolverines dominated time of possession 34:05-25:55 thanks, in part, to success with their running game. Derrick Green carried 22 times for 137 yards as UM totaled 276 yards on the ground and 460 yards overall. By contrast, Miami had 33 yards rushing and 198 total yards. Michigan held a 23-8 advantage in first downs.
Things looked bleak for the RedHawks early. Michigan started the opening drive at midfield thanks to Dennis Norfleet’s 42-yard kickoff return. Six plays into the drive, UM fumbled the snap exchange on second and goal at the three. When Jay Mastin deflected the third down pass to the end zone, Michigan settled for Matt Wile’s 29-yard field goal.
After a one-yard run, Miami was assessed back-to-back pre-snap penalities (false start and delay of game, respectively) for five yards each. Suddenly, it was second and 19. Quarterback Andrew Hendrix went to the air and Michigan’s Jourdan Lewis intercepted at the MU 37.
Unlike the previous week, the miscue became Miami’s only turnover of the contest. However, Michigan turned it into seven points with a five-play drive. Wideout Amara Darboh got an inside release at the line and quarterback Devin Gardner found him slanting to the middle for a 17-yard TD.
With 10 points in the first seven minutes against a team with the nation’s longest FBS losing streak, the Blue and Gold faithful might have been sensing a blowout.
Miami needed stops and/or points. The former came first as Miami, who punted three straight times after the interception, forced a Michigan punt.
The Wolverines, however, were driving again when Tre Clifton forced a fumble by Darboh at the end of a 22-yard pass play. Linebacker Kent Kern recovered at the MU 29.
Two penalties in four plays helped short-circuit Miami’s ensuing possession, but the RedHawks did managed to capitalize on another Michigan turnover two plays into its next drive. Quinten Rollins picked off a Gardner pass, giving MU a short field at the Wolverines 35-yard line.
Hendrix immediately hit Dawan Scott for 20 yards. After an incompletion, two short runs set up fourth and four at the Michigan nine. Kicker Kaleb Patterson came on and split the uprights for a 26-yard field goal.
Momentum joined the Miami sideline when Wyatt Shallman fumbled the kickoff. Paul Moses recovered for the ‘Hawks at the Michigan 21-yard line.
Hendrix connected with David Frazier on 10- and five-yard passes before a short run by Spencer Treadwell. Hendrix then threaded in a pass to Scott just inside the end zone for a TD. Patterson’s PAT tied the game at 10-10.
The Woverines, already coming off a 31-0 loss the previous week to Notre Dame in their final scheduled meeting, were stung. Gardner and Green wasted little time in getting the hosts back on track.
Gardner started UM’s next drive with a 26-yard strike to Darboh. After Bryson Albright sacked Gardner for a loss of seven, Green ripped off a 27-yard run. He followed that with carries for 11, 8 and one yard – the latter putting another Michigan touchdown on the board with 4:26 left in the period.
Neither team could get on the board before halftime, and the Wolverines took a 17-10 lead into the break.
"We’re 17-10 at the half. We easily should be 17-0 the other way. They were ripe for the picking. They didn’t play fundamental in the first half, so we had opportunities, Miami head coach Chuck Martin said. "Then in the second half, ... We have some more opportunities (on) offense, but we don’t execute."
Michigan turned to its running game when play resumed, but there was no more scoring until later in the third quarter. Gardner’s 22-yard completion to tight end Jake Butt got a Wolverines drive started. After a 12-yard run by De’Veon Smith, Gardner found Butt unchecked on the left side, and he ran it in to complete a 29-yard touchdown play. With 3:44 remaining in the stanza, Michigan led 24-10.
"We’re in man coverage, and the safety comes off his man on a fake screen," Martin said. "It’s ridiculous. It’s what bad teams do. You cut guys loose. Then Gardner gave us another chance. He floated one and we didn’t go attack the football. We played not to lose, not to go win a game."
Miami picked up two of its eight first downs for the day in the next drive. One came on a 31-yard Hendrix-to-Frazier strike. However, two more pre-snap penalties helped put the RedHawks in a fourth-and-14 hole. Miami disdained the punt, but Hendrix’s pass for Rokeem Williams went incomplete.
Michigan took over, and so did Green. He carried the ball seven times in a nine-play, 68-yard drive, ending it with a 12-yard scamper off the left side. The PAT made it 31-0, and UM added a 40-yard Wile field goal with 18 seconds left for the final 34-10 margin.
"It’s frustrating, but we’re going to keep working," Martin said. "It’s fundamental stuff that we need to get better at, and we know what we have to do."
Miami remains on the road next week when it meets area rival Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium.