EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - Fitzgerald Toussaint rushed for 120 yards on 24 carries and Brendan Gibbons kicked a 21-yard field goal with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter as No. 14 Michigan rallied from a 14-point second-half deficit to defeat Connecticut 24-21 Saturday night.
One week after avoiding an upset with a 28-24 home victory over Akron, the Wolverines were sluggish and mistake prone again as UConn (0-3) took a 14-7 lead at halftime. Despite an inspired effort by the Huskies on defense, two touchdowns by Toussaint in the second half saved the Wolverines from an embarrassing upset on the road.
Michigan was intercepted twice and lost both of its fumbles, creating opportunities for the Huskies before a sellout crowd that included Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees and Ray Allen of the Miami Heat. UConn now is 2-19 all-time against teams ranked in the Associated Press poll.
UConn increased its lead to 21-7 on the first possession of the second half. On third-and-1 from the Michigan 34, Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner fumbled and safety Ty-Meer Brown scooped up the ball for a 34-yard return into the end zone.
The Wolverines put together a nine-play, 75-yard drive to close the gap to seven points. With 5:37 left in the third quarter, Touissaint rushed 35 yards for a Michigan touchdown that cut UConn's lead to 21-14.
Touissaint tied the game at 21 on a 12-yard run with 9:49 left in the fourth quarter. That score was set up by linebacker Desmond Morgan's 29-yard interception return after he picked off UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer and gave Michigan possession at the UConn 12.
The Huskies, with losses to Towson and Maryland in their first two games, managed just 37 yards and one first down in the first quarter. The second quarter was a much different story as UConn scored two touchdowns in a span of just over two minutes to take a 14-7 lead at halftime. The Huskies gained 91 yards in the second quarter to just 39 for Michigan.
Playing before a Rentschler Stadium record crowd of 42,704, Whitmer connected with tight end Spencer Parker on an 11-yard touchdown pass with 3:54 left that capped an eight-play, 56-yard drive. The Huskies also had a 39-yard touchdown pass to Geremy Davis called back earlier in the drive when the play was reviewed and reversed when it was ruled Davis didn't have control of the ball.
The Huskies got the ball back with 2:25 left when Da'Mario Jones ran into the ball as UConn was trying to down a punt at the Michigan 9. UConn's Obi Melifonwu recovered the fumble and the Huskies needed just two plays to score on a 7-yard pass from Whitmer to tailback Lyle McCombs.
Gardner was sacked twice and intercepted twice in the first half, but he opened the scoring with a 17-yard run up the middle with 1:56 left in the first quarter.
Junior Shakim Phillips, UConn's top receiver with 15 catches for 225 yards and three touchdowns, was not dressed for the game. Phillips injured his left hamstring Sept. 14 in a loss to Maryland. Starting offensive tackle Kevin Friend (ankle) and starting linebacker Graham Stewart (ankle) also did not dress for the Huskies.
NOTES: UConn entered the game ranked No. 103 in total offense and No. 101 in total defense among 123 FBS teams in the nation. The Huskies were No. 121 in sacks allowed, illustrating the extreme weakness of the team's offensive line. ... This was the first time Michigan had played a non-conference game on the East Coast since playing Boston College on Sept. 16, 1995. The Wolverines won that game 23-13 in Chestnut Hill, Mass. ... Michigan wide receiver Jeremy Gallon extended his streak with at least one reception to 30 consecutive games with two catches in the first half. Going into the game, he had recorded at least four catches in eight straight games.