One last rally falls short in Michigan loss

It was a wild one at Notre Dame Stadium, and the Irish appeared to be in the driver's seat after a 95-yard touchdown strike. But Michigan's quarterback had other plans.

This is why Brian Kelly was hired: Big games against a big-time team from the Big House.

Both teams were coming off of solid victories, Michigan's beating of UConn likely a bit more impressive than Notre Dame's victory over Purdue.

But this was not the scenario that Irish fans envisioned. At least it wasn't after Michigan erased an improbable comeback with one of its own, scoring a late touchdown to beat the Irish 28-24.

Quarterback Denard Robinson scored the game-winner for the Wolverines with 27 seconds to go, keeping the ball and running left into the end zone. He set it up with a pass over the middle to Roy Roundtree, who screened off Harrison Smith and made the catch on third and 5 from the 17, a 15-yard gain down to the 2.

Notre Dame had a last-gasp chance to win after two completions to Michael Floyd and a 15-yard penalty on Michigan, but Dayne Crist's pass attempt sailed out of the end zone from the 27 on the last play of the game.

"A hard-fought game," Kelly said. "We challenged our football team at halftime to make sure that everybody knew the kind of football that we were going to play, and create our own identity and personality, and that showed in the way we battled, down 21-7, to come back and get the lead. But again, disappointing in the last drive that we weren't able to hold Michigan out."

Robinson had a day for the history books, rushing for 258 yards and throwing for 244 more.

"I'm speechless right now," Robinson said. "We just put it together. Our team was confident. Our offensive line was ready to play, and everybody was ready for that drive." Notre Dame, which trailed 21-7 at halftime, came all the way back to take the lead 24-21 with 3:41 to go, on a play from its own 5 yard line. Crist hung in the pocket and found tight end Kyle Rudolph with an over-the-shoulder deep ball that eluded Michigan defensive back Cameron Gordon, who got turned around and lost Rudolph. The 95-yard touchdown strike was the second longest pass play in Notre Dame history.

Crist, who sat out much of the first half with blurred vision, led the Irish to a touchdown on the first drive of the second half, on a 47-yard pass play to receiver Tai-ler Jones. (Jones appeared on replay to have tossed the ball aside, in anticipation of the touchdown, before he crossed the goal line, but the touchdown stood).

Notre Dame's first series of downs was as efficient as they come. A 70-yard drive led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Crist.

After forcing a Michigan punt, Notre Dame came out on offense with backup Tommy Rees taking the snaps. Rees threw an interception after a trick play attempt on a pitch back from running back Armando Allen, on a nice read and catch by Michigan linebacker Jonas Mouton.

Michigan scored on the very next play, a 31-yard touchdown pass from Robinson to Roundtree on what appeared to be a broken coverage.

After another series led by Rees went nowhere, Nate Montana replaced him at quarterback. Word quickly circulated in the press box, and was subsequently confirmed, that Crist was having trouble seeing out of his right eye. The members of the crowd, and the Notre Dame sideline, looked despondent.

Robinson completed a long pass to Martavious Odoms, covering 31 yards to the Notre Dame 1, on what again appeared to be a busted coverage. Stephen Hopkins ran in from the 1 to make it 14-7.

On the second-most spectacular play of the day, the do-everything Robinson (he even punted once) took a shotgun snap on a stretch play right, found a seam and was gone, an 87-yard touchdown run that was the second longest ever given up by Notre Dame, and the longest run in the history of Notre Dame Stadium.

And to cap off the ugly stretch, Notre Dame had a chance to cut into the Wolverines' lead when Theo Riddick made a sideline catch from Montana for 37 yards. The Irish had the ball at the Michigan 3 with 3 seconds left in the half. Kelly elected to go for the touchdown instead of a field goal, Montana rolled right, and threw the ball well over Michael Floyd's head and out of the end zone.

When asked about the momentum shift with Crist out of the game in the first half, Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez said, "There's no question that it probably stemmed their momentum a little bit. He looked pretty good when he came back in."

Kelly said that he believed Crist was banged up while hitting his head on the ground when he was tackled on a 19-yard run on the first drive.

Rudolph finished with 164 yards on eight catches. Linebacker Mantei Te'o had 13 total tackles, including one for loss, a forced fumble and broke up a pass.

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