Robinson rushes for 100 yards in Outback Bowl
- Article by: MARK DIDTLER
- Associated Press
- January 1, 2013 - 6:30 PM
TAMPA, Fla. - Denard Robinson's big day running the ball for Michigan wasn't enough to overcome big plays by South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
The senior quarterback lined up mostly at running back in his final college game and rushed for 100 yards on 23 carries in the Wolverines' 33-28 loss to the Gamecocks on Tuesday.
"It's a bittersweet feeling," Robinson said. "That's my family, that's my brothers out there. I've been with them for four years, and it's come to an end."
Devin Gardner threw for 214 yards in his fifth start for No. 19 Michigan (8-5) since Robinson injured his right elbow late in the season. Robinson took some snaps at quarterback Tuesday and even attempted his first passes in a game since Oct. 27.
"His legacy is set," Gardner said of Robinson. "I don't think anything really has to be said on that topic. Everybody has seen what he's done for the university."
Connor Shaw led No. 11 South Carolina (11-2) to the brink of victory and Dylan Thompson carried the Gamecocks over the hump. Thompson tossed a 32-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington with 11 seconds remaining as South Carolina matched a school record for victories in a season.
Thompson replaced Shaw during the winning drive, covering the final 43 yards after Shaw begin the march from his own 30. Gardner's third TD pass of the game had given Michigan a 28-27 lead.
Shaw passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns after missing South Carolina's regular-season finale with a left foot sprain. Thompson threw for 117 yards and two TDs.
Ace Sanders caught TD passes of 4 yards from Thompson and 31 yards from Shaw, who completed 18 of 26 passes before limping off during the final drive. The speedy receiver had nine catches for 92 yards and also scored on a 63-yard punt return — one of four plays over 50 yards yielded by Michigan.
"There's a couple things in football that you don't want to do, and No. 1, you can't give up big plays," Michigan coach Brady Hoke said. "We had four big plays in the throw game that you can't allow to happen. Give them a lot of credit, but at the same time, we had some opportunities. The other thing is, we give up a big punt return for a touchdown. Those things hurt your football team, obviously. It hurts the momentum, morale of what you want to do."
Gardner was 18 of 36, including TD passes of 5 yards to Drew Dileo and 10 and 17 yards to Jeremy Gallon, who gave Michigan its late lead and finished with career bests of nine receptions and 145 yards. Robinson set the NCAA record for career yards rushing by a quarterback, hiking his four-year total to 4,495.
South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was quiet for much of the day, but shifted momentum in the fourth quarter with a big hit on Vincent Smith that sent the running back's helmet rolling several yards backward and caused a fumble that the SEC defensive player of the year recovered to set up Shaw's TD pass to Sanders for a 27-22 lead.
Clowney, who went up against a fellow All-American, Michigan left tackle Taylor Lewan, finished with four tackles.
Lewan plans to announce whether he will enter the 2013 NFL draft after the Christmas break.
"I haven't addressed the team, yet," Lewan said. "We'll go from there."
Lewan missed several plays in the second half after cramping up.
Robinson was injured during the first half of Michigan's two-touchdown loss to Nebraska on Oct. 27. He missed the rest of that game, as well the next two against Minnesota and Northwestern before returning the final two weeks of the regular season to contribute in ways that didn't require him to throw the ball.
The 6-foot, 197-pound senior from Deerfield Beach, Fla., lined up at running back and also took snaps without attempting a pass against Iowa and Ohio State while rushing for 220 yards on 23 carries and catching two passes for 24 yards.
Robinson entered the game during Michigan's second possession and ran for 15 yards on his first play. Gardner threw 26 yards to Gallon, moving the Wolverines into position for Brendan Gibbons to kick a 39-yard field goal.
Down 14-3 after Sanders' punt return, Michigan marched 75 yards in 11 plays to trim South Carolina's lead to four, with Robinson carrying four times for 20 yards along the way. Gardner finished the drive by flipping his 5-yard touchdown to Dileo early in the second quarter.
Michigan began the day ranked second in the nation in pass defense, allowing 155 yards per game. South Carolina matched that in the opening half alone, with most of the yardage coming on Shaw's long TD throw to Byrd and Thompson's 70-yard completion to Jones that led to Sanders' second TD for a 21-10 lead.
The Wolverines turned South Carolina's only turnover into Gibbons' 40-yard field goal in the second quarter, and Matt Wile's Outback Bowl-record 52-yard field goal trimmed Michigan's deficit to 21-16 in the third.
Three of Michigan's five losses were to Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State, the teams ranked first, second and third in the final regular-season Associated Press poll.
"An 8-5 (Big 10) team showed the SEC is not all everything," Lewan said.
South Carolina also won 11 games last season.
© 2014 Star Tribune