ANN ARBOR—Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner scoffed when his toughness came into question earlier this season.
Saturday, he once again proved why.
Limping on and off the field for most of the afternoon in the Wolverines 42-41 loss against Ohio State, Gardner time and time again made the improbable throw in traffic and through tight windows while escaping the rush completing 32-of-45 passes for 451-yards and five total touchdowns.
Walking into his post game press conference with a boot on his left foot, if Gardner was hoping for any sympathy he needn’t look at Michigan coach Brady Hoke.
“He’s beat up like everybody is and that’s when he was limping a little bit I said, ‘I don’t want to see you limp,’” Hoke said afterward. “I said, ‘every guy out here could limp,’ we got to go play.
“He did that and I’m proud of him.”
Michigan struck quickly against the Buckeyes going 99-yards in 5-plays on their first drive of the game resulting in a 1-yard scamper to the left for a Gardner touchdown.
Gardner finished the first quarter 6-of-7 passing for 176-yards and the score knotted up at 14.
Down 35-21 heading into the fourth quarter, Gardner lead the comeback for Michigan orchestrating an 11-play, 83-yard drive resulting in an 11-yard touchdown pass to Drew Dileo, followed by a 13-play, 41-yard drive after the Ohio State turnover as freshman tight end Jake Butt went up to get the football from 2-yards out to tie the game.
Butt finished his day with five catches for 85-yards.
“I think some of it (was) planned for but there were also some things that we thought if Devin could continue to have a little bit more time things would kind of come open a little bit,” Hoke said.
“Jake down the middle of the field, there wasn’t anybody around him but Devin made a little time, made a little space and so that’s part of what happens.”
Gardner was sacked three times Saturday.
Leading Michigan down the field 84-yards in 1:48 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, trailing Ohio State 42-35, Gardner again made a key throw this time to sophomore wide out Devin Funchess for a two yard score.
With Hoke opting to go for the two-point conversion instead of the extra point and almost certainly overtime with just 32 seconds remaining, Gardner was picked off by Ohio State’s Tyvis Powell in the end zone.
“We ran the two-point play we practiced and got jumped underneath (the route) and they intercepted the ball,” Gardner said of the play.