ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — In front of Michigan’s smallest home crowd in almost two decades, Derrick Green gave Wolverines fans something to feel good about.
Green ran for 137 yards and two touchdowns, and Michigan overcame three first-half turnovers to beat Miami (Ohio) 34-10 on Saturday. It wasn’t an overwhelming performance by the Wolverines, but after their 31-0 loss to Notre Dame last weekend, any offensive production was welcome.
“They were just feeding me, and I felt good,” said Green, who rushed for 270 yards all season in 2013 as a freshman. “The offense, we’re just coming together as a unit.”
The Wolverines (2-1) held the RedHawks (0-3) to eight first downs, and Miami lost its 19th straight game. Michigan struggled to put this game away, though.
Standout wide receiver Devin Funchess, who appeared to hurt his leg against Notre Dame, did not suit up for Michigan. Devin Gardner went 13 of 20 for 184 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
It was tied at 10 in the second quarter when Michigan went on a six-play, 66-yard drive capped by Green’s 1-yard scoring run. The last four plays of that drive were runs by Green, covering 47 yards.
Gardner’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Jake Butt made it 24-10 with 3:44 left in the third.
There were some empty seats in the northwest corner of Michigan Stadium, where students generally sit. The announced crowd of 102,824 was enough to extend the team’s streak to 253 home games of at least 100,000. But it was the smallest crowd at Michigan since the Wolverines drew 100,862 against Memphis on Sept. 9, 1995, according to STATS.
The fans weren’t too pleased at the end of the first half. Up 17-10, the Wolverines were facing fourth-and-1 from the Miami 32 with 1:00 remaining in the second quarter. After Miami took a timeout, Michigan was called for delay of game. After another Miami timeout, Michigan took another delay of game — the second one appeared intentional, to give the punter more room to pin the RedHawks back.
There were plenty of boos from the crowd, and punter Will Hagerup’s kick went into the end zone for a touchback.
“We’ve got great fans,” coach Brady Hoke said. “They’ve got high expectations like we do. As far as the players, they know that they can only control what they can control, and that’s playing the best Michigan football we can.”
Hoke said Monday that Funchess was “fine” — but he didn’t play. When asked if Funchess will play next weekend against Utah, Hoke said, “We’ll see.”
Gardner’s 17-yard scoring pass to Amara Darboh gave Michigan a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Wolverines lost two fumbles and an interception in the second. The interception gave Miami the ball at the Michigan 35, and the RedHawks managed a field goal.
On the ensuing kickoff, Wyatt Shallman fumbled and Miami recovered at the Michigan 21. Andrew Hendrix threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Dawan Scott to tie it at 10.
“We were excited to play at Michigan. This place brings out the best in everyone who plays here,” Miami coach Chuck Martin said. “I thought we were going to win this week. We went harder this week but it wasn’t hard enough. We’ll continue to play harder and smarter. We’ll win one of these things soon.”
The RedHawks haven’t won since October 2012, and although they stayed close against Michigan, there wasn’t much chance of an upset with Miami having so many problems moving the ball. Hendrix threw for 165 yards, but the RedHawks rushed for only 33.
Green made it 31-10 with a 12-yard touchdown run in the fourth. That drive covered 68 yards in nine plays — with Green accounting for 50 yards on seven carries.
“I think the second half, obviously, we took care of the football and didn’t turn the ball over,” Hoke said. “And that completed some drives that we had. … We wanted to run the ball the whole game, but the second half, I think we stayed away from some negative plays that put you in bad situations.”