ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Though the home crowd would disagree, there couldn’t have been a more fitting ending for the Irish’s last scheduled game in Ann Arbor. Despite a game-ending injury to starting quarterback Tommy Rees, the Fighting Irish (2-0) prevailed with a 38-35 victory in what will go down as yet another instant classic between the two storied rivals.
After scoring with 1 minute left in the game, the Wolverines (1-1) were unable to convert an onside kick, ultimately sealing their fate.
As the clock wound down, many Irish fans were reluctant to call it a victory until it was officially over. They knew better, as the last four contests have been decided by a total of 19 points. This game would be no different, as the Irish held on to win in back-to-back seasons by less than a touchdown.
Amir Carlisle started the game right where he left off with Temple, scoring the first touchdown of the game, giving him his fourth of the season. It wasn’t long after that when starting quarterback Tommy Rees was seen limping off the field in what seems to be an apparent leg injury.
“Tommy is our guy. We’ll give him some rest this week as we prepare for Purdue, but we fully expect him to be ready for game time,” head coach Brian Kelly announced after the game.
This comes as a relief to Irish fans, as the football program has been riddled with injuries to several key players. However, it seemed as if backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix was determined to live by Kelly’s “Next Man In” mantra.
The senior filled in nicely for the injured Rees, throwing for 207 yards and 2 touchdowns, while also adding 1 score and 33 yards on the ground. His previous game experience helped calm any nerves he may have had despite having to endure a screaming sellout crowd.
“I just blocked it all out. It’s loud in there, but I’m comfortable enough with this offense and the playmakers we have that it didn’t really matter,” Hendrix claimed after the victory. “It’s never easy going into the Big House and coming out on top, but we have a lot of confidence in each other out there.”
Though Hendrix displayed confidence in his post-game interview, it wasn’t until midway through the 3rd quarter that he looked the part. He marched the Irish down on an 80-yard drive, capping it off with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Davaris Daniels.
Daniels would add another score in the 4th quarter backing up Kelly’s claim that he would be a “BCS-caliber receiver.”
“We have really liked his progression this fall. We always knew he had the athleticism and size to be great, but we were just waiting for his football IQ to develop. He’s right there. And I can’t say I’m too surprised by that,” Kelly said.
Daniels’ final touchdown would end up being the nail in the coffin, despite a late receiving touchdown by Jeremy Gallon from Devin Gardner.
As noted in our pre-season predictions, Gardner was more than athletic enough as he rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown. However, his inexperience coupled with several dropped passes by his receivers led to a below-average performance. The Irish secondary held him to only 91 passing yards and converted two interceptions.
Despite giving up 35 points and 285 rushing yards, the Irish defense was led by Prince Shembo’s 14 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 1.5 sacks.
The Irish travel to West Lafayette next week to play Purdue for their second night game in as many weeks.
*All stats, quotes, and ideas are purely fictional. This is a simulated recap, is for entertainment purposes only, and does not reflect any actual outcome.