No. 7 Michigan leans on kicking game, beats Air Force

Michigan kicker Quinn Nordin (3) reacts towards the sideline after making his fifth field goal of the game during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game against Air Force in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. Michigan won 29-13. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Donovan Peoples-Jones returned a punt 79 yards for a score and Quinn Nordin tied a school record with five field goals, helping No. 7 Michigan overcome its offensive struggles in a 29-13 win over Air Force on Saturday.

The Wolverines (3-0) didn’t lead by more than three points until Peoples-Jones’ touchdown early in the third quarter.

The Falcons (1-1) failed to convert a pass until Arion Worthman threw a short pass to Ronald Cleveland and the receiver turned it into a 64-yard TD with 11:54 left in the quarter that pulled the service academy within three points again.

Nordin kicked two more field goals, late in the third and early in the fourth, to share a single-game school mark with three players.

Michigan’s Wilton Speight was 14 of 23 for 169 yards, missing some targets and having some passes dropped. Ty Isaac ran for 89 yards on 16 carries for the Wolverines, who couldn’t lean on him late in the game because he was slow to get up after getting tackled and didn’t return.

Karan Higdon filled in for Isaac and sealed the victory with a 36-yard TD run with 1:02 left.

Worthman ran for 60 yards on 26 carries, directing Air Force’s triple-option offense that wasn’t very effective when the option was to throw. Worthman was 1 of 7 and his replacement, Nate Romine, threw an interception on two attempts.

Air Force had won seven straight, dating to last season, including a win over No. 20 Boise State.

THE TAKEAWAY

AIR FORCE: The young Falcons should leave the Big House encouraged that they were competitive in a game they were expected to lose by three-plus TDs.

MICHIGAN: The Wolverines still have a lot of work to do on offense, especially in the red zone. They have had 10 drives inside opponents’ 20 and haven’t taken full advantage, scoring only one TD.

UP NEXT

AIR FORCE: Hosts San Diego State on Saturday.

MICHIGAN: Plays at Purdue on Saturday.