PISCATAWAY TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- The Michigan medical staff may have a new communication system but Saturday night it was same ole, same ole for the Wolverines on the football field.
After a promising start in the first half for Michigan, Rutgers slammed the door on this one despite a late comeback attempt, 26-24 the final.
Senior quarterback Devin Gardner once again the starter at quarterback, providing an early spark for the Wolverines leading a nine play, 57-yard drive to open the game, ending with a 39-yard field goal by junior Matt Wile.
After two Rutgers field goals, the Scarlet Knights held a 6-3 advantage through one quarter of play.
In the second quarter, Gardner went back to work.
Orchestrating a seven play, 75-yard drive that began with a 23-yard completion to Devin Funchess followed by a one handed 20-yard grab by Jake Butt, Gardner capped it off with a four yard scamper into the end zone.
Michigan leading 10-6 with 14:10 left in the half.
After both defenses traded stops, Rutgers retook the lead in the blink of an eye. Quarterback Gary Nova found a wide-open Andre Turzilli in the middle of the field on the first play of that drive, Turzilli taking it 80-yards for a touchdown.
Following a missed extra point, blocked by Maurice Hurst Jr., Rutgers leading 12-10.
Michigan would respond two drives later though with more big gains through the air, this time Gardner hooking up with Jehu Chesson for 28-yards down to the Rutgers five yard line.
Finding little running room the next two plays, Hurts Jr. came onto the field as a full back and sophomore De’Veon Smith followed big No. 73 into the end zone for another Michigan touchdown.
This was the first time all season Michigan’s offense scored multiple touchdowns in the same game against a power five conference opponent.
17-12, Wolverines with 1:43 left in the first half.
But the Michigan defense couldn’t keep the lead heading into the break. Nova would continue his sensational first half barrage through the air as he takes Rutgers down the field quickly with gains of 27, 12 and 14 prior to a seven-yard touchdown pass to John Tsimis.
That final drive of the half covered 75-yards on 11 plays as Nova finished the first half completing 14-of-25 pass attempts for 282-yards and two touchdowns.
Rutgers led at the half, 19-17.
The score would remain the same heading to fourth quarter as both defenses flexed their muscle.
Nova was sacked on the opening drive of the second half by Taco Charlton for a loss of nine, forcing a Rutgers punt.
On Michigan’s opening drive of the half, Gardner took a loss of 13 on a well-timed blitz up the middle of the offensive line by Steve Longa and Kennet Kirksey.
Both teams would then force the first turnovers of the game as Rutgers elects to go for it on fourth down and three from the Michigan 31; Nova’s pass incomplete.
On the very next possession for Michigan, Gardner would cough up the football with an interception over the middle by safety Davon Jacobs, the first of Jacobs career.
Rutgers driving to start the fourth quarter as Nova connects with Turzilli once more, this time from 14-yards out to put the Scarlet Knights up nine, 26-17.
On the ensuing drive for Michigan, Derrick Green stepped up.
Toting the rock three times for 37-yards on the drive, Gardner then called his own number, eluding pressure on the right edge, escaping a diving tackle attempt and rushing 19-yards into the end zone for a Michigan touchdown.
26-24 Rutgers with just over nine minutes left in the fourth quarter.
The Michigan defense would then force a Rutgers punt on the next possession, giving the Wolverines the ball at their own 14-yard line with 6:34 to play.
Gardner would navigate Michigan into Rutgers territory with a 12-yard completion to Khalid Hill along with a 17-yard catch by Devin Funchess.
That would bring up third and eight with 3:22 left, Gardner finding Amara Darboh who appeared to get the first down but juggled the ball at the end of the play.
The play was challenged by Michigan but ruled incomplete.
Michigan would attempt a 56-yard field goal on fourth down and eight but Matt Wile’s kick was blocked.
Rutgers would recover and run out the clock to win the game, 26-24.