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Irish Insights

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Irish trail Wolverines at half

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Notre Dame’s defense hasn’t stopped much against Michigan, and the Irish offense made a crucial mistake late in the first half as the Wolverines took a 27-13 halftime lead.

The No. 17 Wolverines gained 268 yards in the opening half, and quarterback Tommy Rees threw an interception with 1 ½ minutes to play in the opening half to create the hole the No. 14 Irish are in.

Michigan has picked up 13 first downs as it ran for 88 yards and threw for 180. Quarterback Devin Gardner is leading the way with 180 passing yards and two touchdown throws to Jeremy Gallon, who has five catches for 123 yards.

Gardner has also run for 50 yards, including a 2-yard TD run.

Rees is 11 for 23 for 146 yards with a touchdown and the interception. Notre Dame gained 199 yards in the opening half.

Kyle Brindza tied the game at 10 with a 44-yard field goal to cap a six-play, 20-yard drive that bridged the first and second quarters.

Brindza missed from 44 yards last week against Temple.

Michigan took the lead back on the next series thanks to a Notre Dame penalty after two strong defensive plays.

The Wolverines got to the Irish’s 9-yard line only to be pushed back five yards when linebacker Carlo Calabrese brought Fitzgerald Toussaint down in the back field. That play was followed by Irish safety Matthias Farley knocking down a potential touchdown pass in the end zone.

But on third-and-goal from the 14, cornerback KeiVarae Russell was flagged for pass interference, and Gardner wasted no time capitalizing on the miscue as he ran into the end zone from 2 yards out for a 17-10 lead with 8:43 to play in the first half.

Notre Dame’s response to the score got off to a rough start as the Irish had to burn a timeout before getting going, but Rees settled in for a nice push before the drive ran out of steam on Michigan’s 11.

Rees completed passes of 21, 23 and 16 yards to get Notre Dame to the 11, but the Irish had to settle for a 24-yard field goal from Brindza to cut the Wolverines’ lead to 17-13 with 5:49 to play.

Michigan could only push its lead back to 20-13 on its ensuing drive as a couple of holding penalties killed the Wolverines’ momentum.

Gardner broke off a 35-yard run on the second play of the series to get to Notre Dame’s 21. But Michigan was called for back-to-back holding penalties pushing the Wolverines back to the 39.

The Wolverines settled for a 38-yard field goal from Brendan Gibbons at the end of the drive for a 20-13 lead with 1:56 to play, but the Irish gave the ball right back to Michigan.

Rees tried to make a throw while running to his left on the second play of the Irish’s drive and was intercepted by Blake Countess, who returned it 24 yards to Notre Dame’s 23.

Gardner hit Jeremy Gallon for a 12-yard touchdown four plays after the interception to take a 23-13 lead with 1:09 to play in the opening half.

Notre Dame took one last shot at cutting into Michigan’s lead with 5 seconds to play in the opening half as Andrew Hendrix came in to throw a Hail Mary from the Irish 46. DaVaris Daniels dropped the pass that was well short of the end zone.

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