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Associated Press, Published October 05 2013

Michigan pulls away, routs Minnesota

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan figured out a way to help Devin Gardner cut down on mistakes.

Gardner didn’t throw the ball until midway through the second quarter, and played his first turnover-free game since becoming a starting quarterback last year and it helped the 19th-ranked Wolverines pull away to rout Minnesota 42-13 on Saturday.

“We’re going to do what’s working and that’s what was working at the time,” he said.

Gardner had seven turnovers in his previous two games, allowing both Connecticut and Akron to have chances to upset Michigan.

Against Minnesota, he threw a 24-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass to Devin Funchess late in the first half and ran for a 2-yard score late in the game as the Wolverines turned a game that was close for a half into a lopsided victory.

Michigan (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) clearly planned to rely on its running game – without Gardner as a primary ball carrier – to take pressure off their turnover-prone QB.

“We wanted to run the ball and we wanted to send that message,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. “I thought we did a pretty good job of it.”

The Golden Gophers (4-2, 0-2) were without coach Jerry Kill for an entire game for the first time because of his epilepsy. He had a seizure Saturday morning, when he planned to travel to Michigan to coach in the game, and remained home to rest in Minnesota.

Defensive coordinator Tracy Claeys served as the acting head coach at Michigan, leading the team from the press box.

“We have been through a lot of battles together,” Claeys said. “We are all very well trained on our jobs and our responsibilities. We miss him here as a friend. We are all pretty much used to this, and so are the kids.”

Minnesota’s Mitch Leidner completed 14 of 21 passes for 145 with a TD and had 66 yards rushing on 18 carries. Leidner’s second turnover, an interception, was returned 72 yards for a TD with 1:19 left.

As promised, the Wolverines were determined to get their ground game going with running backs. Toussaint’s 8-yard TD run ended a six-play drive which consisted of six handoffs.

The Gophers, likewise, wanted to keep the ball on the ground and they had some success early. They ran the ball 12 times on a 16-play, 9:44 drive that was capped by Leidner’s 7-yard pass to Maxx Williams to tie the game late in the first quarter.

Kill had his fifth game-day seizure in three seasons at Minnesota, and the second this year. He did not coach the second half against Western Illinois, the third game he wasn’t able to finish because of a seizure. He returned for the next two games.

Minnesota 7 0 3 3 – 13

Michigan 7 7 14 14 – 42

First Quarter

Mich – Toussaint 8 run (Gibbons kick), 10:36.

Minn – M.Williams 7 pass from Mi.Leidner (Hawthorne kick), :52.

Second Quarter

Mich – Funchess 24 pass from Gardner (Gibbons kick), 1:25.

Third Quarter

Mich – Green 2 run (Gibbons kick), 10:08.

Minn – FG Hawthorne 44, 4:26.

Mich – Toussaint 12 run (Gibbons kick), :11.

Fourth Quarter

Minn – FG Hawthorne 27, 10:07.

Mich – Gardner 2 run (Gibbons kick), 2:36.

Mich – Countess 72 interception return (Gibbons kick), 1:19.

A – 111,079.

Minn Mich

First downs 16 17

Rushes-yards 41-136 35-113

Passing 145 235

Comp-Att-Int 14-21-1 13-17-0

Return Yards 18 85

Punts-Avg. 3-38.3 3-51.7

Fumbles-Lost 2-1 1-0

Penalties-Yards 6-35 2-10

Time of Possession 33:48 26:12

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Minnesota, Mi.Leidner 18-66, R.Williams 8-33, Cobb 7-22,

Gillum 2-9, Kirkwood 5-6, D.Jones 1-0. Michigan, Toussaint 17-78,

Green 10-23, Gardner 7-17, Team 1-(minus 5).

PASSING: Minnesota, Mi.Leidner 14-21-1-145. Michigan,

Gardner 13-17-0-235.

RECEIVING: Minnesota, M.Williams 5-54, Wolitarsky 2-27, Engel 2-22,

Cobb 2-6, Kirkwood 1-14, Mezzenga 1-12, R.Williams 1-10. Michigan,

Funchess 7-151, Chesson 3-33, Gallon 2-39, Dileo 1-12.