By RICKY LINDSAY, Sports Editor
Jeremy Gallon and Devin Gardner have donned the University of Michigan’s Legends jerseys for the past two months.
On Saturday against Indiana, the offensive tandem had performances legends are known for, etching their names in record books in Michigan’s 63-47 win.
“I felt that the offensive line protected so well and gave me such an opportunity to hit those guys,” Gardner said. “They did a good job getting open, that kind of makes my job easy, all I gotta do is hit them.”
Gardner finished 21-of-29 passing for a Michigan single-game record 503 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for 103 yards and three touchdowns on 15 carries.
Not only did Gallon shatter Michigan’s single-game receiving yards record, he broke the Big Ten’s as well. He finished with 369 yards and two touchdowns on 14 receptions, setting both records in the third quarter.
“Since he’s only 5’9”, I think they might underestimate him some, but he has the same skills as all the taller receivers,” Gardner said. “He can go get the high balls, he’s really quick getting out of his cuts and it’s a terror for the opposing defenses.”
“It’s nice to know,” Gallon added. “That’s what we play for as receivers, that’s what you dream of. Just going out and giving it all for your teammates and just making the best of your ability and just taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. For me, that’s what I did tonight.
But the individual offensive records only scratched the surface. The Wolverines had 751 yards of total offense on 83 plays, a new single-game record by the team.
“Offensively we were pretty much in sync,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “I thought Devin (Gardner) did a nice job, found the guys that were open (and) ran the ball better.”
Indiana started the shootout after Nate Sudfeld connected with Cody Latimer on a 59-yard touchdown pass for the game’s first score.
On the following drive, Fitzgerald Toussaint topped his rushing total against Penn State with 28 yards. Devin Gardner ran into the end zone untouched for a 13-yard touchdown to tie the game.
Gardner connected with Gallon for a long 70-yard pass one drive later. After a 16-yard catch by Gallon, the Wolverines found themselves in a fourth-and-one situation on Indiana’s 1-yard line. Toussaint cut left and bolted into the end zone for his first touchdown of the game, giving the Wolverines a 14-7 lead.
Toussaint finished with 151 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries. He led the Wolverines in rushing for just the third time this season.
“Fitz got 151 yards and that’s what I’m most excited about is Fitz, our running back getting the yards he deserves after playing as hard as he does,” fifth-year senior Taylor Lewan said.
On the next drive, fifth-year senior Brendan Gibbons had a 39-yard field goal attempt blocked on a low kick. It was the kicker’s second straight game with a blocked field goal.
Following Gibbons’ blocked field goal, Toussaint bulldozed into the end zone on a 7-yard rush for his second touchdown of the game.
Down 14 early, Indiana’s offense began to roll towards the end of the first half.
Tre Roberson drove Indiana 24 yards on two passes before connecting with Shane Wynn for a 33-yard touchdown.
On the next drive, Gardner led the Wolverines down the field with big plays. He accounted for four plays of 10 yards or more before finding Gallon for a 21-yard touchdown.
But with 40 seconds remaining, Indiana would make one final attempt to score before halftime. Two passes by Roberson set up a 50-yard field goal by Mitch Ewald as time expired.
On the second play of the second half, Toussaint fumbled inside Michigan’s 30-yard line. Indiana wound up returning it to their opponent’s 5-yard line. A few plays later, Hoosiers’ running back Tevin Coleman zipped into the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown.
“The one thing about Fitz is that he’s a guy that has a great toughness to him,” Hoke said. “There’s probably nobody more disappointed than he was with the fumble, but at the same time, if anybody’s gonna go get back in the fight, it’s him.”
Toussaint did just that on Michigan’s following drive. The fifth-year senior ran for 24 yards before Gardner tossed a 50-yard touchdown to an untouched Gallon.
Early on in the second half, it looked like the Wolverines were experiencing deja vu from three seasons ago. The team outlasted Illinois in a triple overtime shootout, 67-65, then.
Lewan was one of the few remaining Wolverines from that 2010 game.
“I went up to (graduate assistant) Kevin Koger during the game and was like, ‘this feels like Illinois,” Lewan said. “He’s like ‘don’t say that, don’t say that.’”
As the shootout progressed, both teams continued to trade blows. When it seemed like one was out for the count, a big play would propel them back into contention.
Roberson, a notorious option quarterback, led Indiana’s passing game with precision and poise on the following. He threw for 48 yards on a scoring drive, capped off by a 5-yard passing touchdown to Wynn.
After the Wolverines were held to a three-and-out, a 23-yard field goal by Ewald brought the Hoosiers within one point a tie game
But Michigan continued to match the Hoosier’s offensive explosiveness. Another 70-yard reception by Gallon paved the way for Toussaint’s third touchdown after he burst past the goal line on a 1-yard rush.
Roberson would join the big play parade on the following drive. Kofi Hughes leaped high over a Michigan defender, falling into the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown reception.
On the next two drives, Gardner and Roberson traded a pair of rushing touchdowns. Two late interceptions by Thomas Gordon proved to be the lone thing that could slow Indiana’s torrid offense. A pair of rushing touchdowns by Gardner and Toussaint on Michigan’s final two drives were able the seal the victory.
“Coach Hoke always reminds me that we need more,” Gardner said. “Coach (Fred) Jackson came up to me and said it’s going to be like a basketball game, you might have to keep scoring.”
Seven months after Indiana outlasted the Wolverines in a shootout on the hardwood, Michigan got its revenge on the turf.