Wolverines improve to 5-0, beat Minnesota 42-13

By Mark Pierce, Sports Reporter, mpierce@wdiv.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 10:04:04 AM EST
Updated On: Oct 06 2013 04:22:09 AM EDT
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -

Devin Gardner threw a 24-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to Devin Funchess late in the first half and No. 19 Michigan pulled away to rout Minnesota 42-13 on Saturday.

The Wolverines (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) relied on their running game to take pressure off the turnover-prone Gardner. He didn't throw an interception for the first time since making his first start as a quarterback last year at Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers (4-2, 0-2) were without coach Jerry Kill for an entire game for the first time because of his epilepsy. He had a seizure Saturday morning, when he planned to travel to Michigan to coach in the game, and remained home to rest in Minnesota.

The Wolverines have won 18 straight games at home, the longest active streak among BCS conference schools and their longest since winning 28 in a row in Ann Arbor from 1969-73.

Gardner, who had seven turnovers in his last two games and 10 this season, had thrown at least one interception in nine straight games. He was 13 of 17 for 235 yards with a TD through the air and ran seven times for 17 yards and another score. Gardner recovered his own fumble late in the game and bounced back on the next snap by converting third-and-11 with a 22-yard pass to Funchess to set up the QB's rushing TD.

Funchess had career highs with seven receptions for 151 yards and a score. Fitzgerald Toussaint had 78 yards rushing and two touchdowns from 8 and 12 yards to give Michigan a 7-0 lead and a 28-10 advantage.

Minnesota's Mitch Leidner completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 and had 66 yards rushing on 18 carries. Leidner's second turnover, an interception, was returned 72 yards for a TD with 1:19 left.

Coming off a bye week, Michigan got off to a good start and closed well in its Big Ten opener.

On the opening drive, Wolverines defensive tackle Jibreel Black forced Leidner to fumble and linebacker James Ross recovered it at the Minnesota 35.

As promised, Michigan was determined to get its ground game going with its running backs. Toussaint's 8-yard TD run ended a six-play drive which consisted of six handoffs.

The Gophers, likewise, wanted to keep the ball on the ground and they had some success early. They ran the ball 12 times on a 16-play, 9:44 drive that was capped by Leidner's 7-yard pass to Maxx Williams to tie the game late in the first quarter.

Gardner threw an 18-yard pass to Funchess to set up his 24-yard pass that put Michigan ahead 14-7 with 1:25 left in the second quarter.

The Wolverines opened the second half with a TD drive that was capped by Derrick Green's 2-yard run that put them ahead 21-7.

Minnesota made a field goal in both the third and four quarters when facing a fourth-and-5 at the Michigan 27 and 10 -- pulling within 11 points and 15 points -- instead of going for it. In place of Kill, defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys served as the active head coach from the press box. Kill made contact with his coaching staff before kickoff Saturday, according to the school.

Kill had his fifth game-day seizure in three seasons at Minnesota, and the second this year. He did not coach the second half against Western Illinois, the third game he wasn't able to finish because of a seizure. He returned for the next two games.

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